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Palm Coast Monday, Apr. 17, 2017 2 years ago

Sheriff's Office updates website after Google searches for the agency bring up viruses, pornography

The Sheriff's Office website can be accessed directly at searches for the Flagler County Sheriff's Office website began bringing up pornographic websites and other potentially virus-infected sites April 15. That problem has since been fixed.

The Sheriff's Office website itself, at, continued to work normally, accessible directly by typing that web address intro a browser. Searches from other search engines, including and, are also not linking to malicious websites. 

The Sheriff's Office advised people through an April 15 news release to avoid accessing its website through Google search links, and began investigating the issue.

Although an initial news release from the Sheriff's Office stated that the county's information technology staff believed the website itself hadn't been hacked — that the problem was entirely on Google's end — that turned out not to be the case.

The county's IT staff "did discover malicious software on old and out-of-use agency web pages in the server used to host the website," according to an April 16 Sheriff's Office news release. "The active pages of the Sheriff’s Office website were not hacked, however, inactive pages were found to have programming code that contributed to the indexing problems with Google searches."

Google has since removed the links to the malicious pages.

The Sheriff's Office's current website was built in 2013 and was managed by the Sheriff's Office administration, not the county IT staff, according to the news release. The county's IT staff therefore did not handle updates for the website server.

When current Sheriff Rick Staly took office, he directed that the agency build a new website with county IT support, but until that change takes place, only small tweaks were to be made to the existing website.

When the county's IT department began investigating the malicious links, it found that although the website's software said it was current with its updates, it was in fact operating under an older system that hadn't been updated properly since 2014, creating vulnerabilities.  

County IT staff have now updated the software, according to the news release. 

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office website can be reached directly at

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