While the hacked website was being redesigned, an apology was posted.

The Nevada State Library and Archives website came back online last week, several weeks after it was hacked and shut down.

The hackers installed their own material on the site, which was quickly detected by the enterprise IT services arm of the Nevada Department of Administration, which informed Library and Archives officials. The site was taken off line and, after some discussion, it was decided to fully redesign what was a relatively aged website.

No public announcement of the hacking was made. When the RN&R asked Library and Archives administrator Daphne DeLeon, she confirmed it.

“That’s correct,” she said. “It was hacked. Enterprise informed us right away, as soon as they detected the hack. … “They brought [the website] down. My staff looked at the site and found there material that was not put up by us. … We went ahead and made the decision to use staff resources to redesign it. Our website wasn’t available for two months.”

During those months, some regular users of the website said they were able to continue using it through Google caches. But for inquiries from less computer-savvy customers, library staffers fell back on pre-computer age methods of serving them.

“We had to send material out a different way and spent more time doing that,” DeLeon said.

This is the home page of the new website of the Nevada State Library and Archives.

She said that added to the cost of the hacking, but that it was not generally an expensive episode. The redesign had already been talked about before the hacking, she said. It was accelerated, but the money would have been expended at some point.

She was not able to say when the redesign would have happened if the hacking had not occurred.

“That’s difficult to surmise,” she said. “We have been in the planning stages. We are the last division in the Department of Administration to migrate.”

While the site was shut down, an apology was posted: “The Nevada State Library and Archives website is down. Please contact the agency directly at (775) 684-3313 for assistance. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you. We are working to make the Nevada State Library and Archives website available as soon as possible.”

The site address has been changed from http://nsla.nevadaculture.org/ to www.nsla.nv.gov, likely a reflection of the fact that the state's Cultural Affairs Department was split in two in the latest state government reorganization, with some functions attached to Tourism and Library and Archives attached to Administration. The now defunct Cultural Affairs was created by a previous reorganization. Consolidating the functions was described as saving money in the reorganization that created Cultural Affairs. Splitting them up was described as saving money in the latest reorganization.

The new design is more colorful than the relatively staid previous design. DeLeon said the changes on the site mostly make things easier rather than providing new capabilities. “They were dictated by how the website organically grew before,” she said. More and more things were regularly tacked onto the older site, with routes created that now have been shortened.

“Not necessarily,” she said when asked if the website can now do things it couldn't do before. “It is better in terms of what they couldn’t get access to. We tried to make things a little easier to find, within two or three clicks. … In terms of new information, I don’t think we put up anything new.”

When the website went back online, administrator of the State Archives and Records Management program Jeff Kintop sent email messages out to regular aficionados of the site: “The myths of the month [written by Kintop’s predecessor, Guy Louis Rocha], always a popular resource, are up in a new format. There are quick links to key projects and programs on the front page. There is a Nevada Literary Map link off the resources on the front page. And NSLA has a YouTube channel and a Nevada Reads Facebook page.”

It’s not known what, if anything, is being done to track the hackers. Enterprise IT information officer David Gustafson could not be reached for comment.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...