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Former Springdale IT Worker Says He Warned City Of Computer Network Vulnerabilities

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SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- Earlier this month, after 5NEWS revealed Springdale Police Chief Kathy O’Kelley’s computer was accessed by an IT worker, others came forward anonymously claiming the city leaders were warned their computer network was vulnerable to unauthorized access.

In an exclusive interview with 5NEWS, IT specialist Mike Mahoney said he was one of the people who filed reports with the city, warning them that every computer within their network was at risk of being accessed without permission.

Before parting ways with the Springdale IT Department in 2014, Mahoney said he let city managers, like the mayor and human resources department, know about a flaw in their computer networks.

“I saw that there was not a permission-based prompt system [in order to access computers],” Mahoney said. “Normally, the user gives the IT support person permission."

According to Mahoney, city computers never required a prompt.

“[As an IT worker] you could watch people typing and you could change their documents,” Mahoney said.

In late May, police cited former IT worker Peter Ussery for accessing the police chief’s computer without permission. Ussery admitted to police that he downloaded thousands of documents and photos from the police chief’s desktop, records show.

“I do not even know if that [was] hacking because it was just unrestricted remote access,” Mahoney said.

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said he remembered being confronted by Mahoney.

“I remember a few conversations with him,” Sprouse said.

At that time, Sprouse claimed he referred all concerns to his human resources and IT departments.

“There is a certain level of trust that has to be there [with IT department workers],” Sprouse said. “People that work in that position, in IT, they have to have access. It comes with the job. I have to call them when I forget my password,” Sprouse said.

Since the chief's computer was accessed without permission, Sprouse said the city has taken steps to correct issues with their computer network.

“We will continue to look at safeguards that we need to have,” Sprouse said. “We have a great IT department. I am trusting them from keeping these types of things from happening again in the future.”

5NEWS asked Mahoney about the Josh Duggar sexual molestation document leak, but he said he did not know who gave the information to national media outlets.

Police said they investigated whether Peter Ussery leaked the documents, but found they had no proof he was responsible.