Virginia State Police network down for several hours

Posted at 4:54 PM, Jan 19, 2012
and last updated 2012-02-28 18:05:57-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Virginia’s vast computer network system suffered another critical blow earlier today when a switch failure at the Midlothian headquarters of the  Virginia State Police left them unable to do background checks, run fingerprints or process firearm transactions.

That left police office officers throughout the state in dark about who they were pulling over or trying to arrest.

For five hours, the state police were in information limbo as technicians with the Virginia Information Technologies Agency and Northrop Grumman made repairs. Service went out at 1:30 in the afternoon and was restored at 6:30, said VITA Chief Information Officer Samuel Nixon Jr.

This was serious outage affecting a sensitive public-safety related system that includes Virginia Criminal Information Network or VCIN), the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry, Central Criminal Records Exchange (CCRE), the Virginia Firearms Transaction Program, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) network, the Automated Fingerprint Index System (AFIS), and additional internal Virginia State Police systems and applications, said Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.

Police agencies throughout the state rely on these databases to safely do their jobs.

The system requires the highest possible level of network security, said Nixon, a former lawmaker tasked by Governor  Bob McDonnell to sort out the state’s computer system after vast failures in 2010.

At one point, those system failures affected 13 percent of the Commonwealth’s file servers, hobbling agencies like DMV, the Board of Elections and the Department of Taxation. Virginian’s across the state were affected.

Today’s failure affected public safety.

The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) outsources the management of its data centers to Northrop Grumman through a 10-year, $2.4 billion contract that it signed in 2005.