Software update locks thousands of state workers out of computers

Computer problems for some - extended coffee break for others: Some employees of the Dept. of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Financial Services Division in the State Office Building in Juneau drink coffee near their disabled computers March 22, 2017. The workers, who chose to not be identified, said that some computers were working while others were not as a result of a statewide technical problem within the state's system. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)
Computer problems for some, extended coffee break for others: Employees of the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, Financial Services Division, in the State Office Building in Juneau drink coffee near their disabled computers on Wednesday. The workers, who chose to not be identified, said some computers were working while others were not due to a technical problem within the state’s system. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

A software update error locked thousands of state employees out of their work computers Wednesday morning. Roughly 6,000 state workers were unable to log in to their computers, affecting two in five executive branch workers.

Department of Administration officials said it was caused by human error while a security update was being installed.

Chief Information Technology Officer Jim Steele said the state quickly identified the root cause of the problem. It took a few hours for those affected to be able to log on again.

“It looks like it was human error and we are working to correct this as soon as we possibly can,” Steele said. “It’s one of those issues that once the fix has been identified – it actually takes a while to work its way through the network. “

Department of Administration Deputy Commissioner Leslie Ridle said the incident didn’t appear to cause any critical trouble.

“We didn’t hear any problems with anything emergency – like somebody couldn’t perform an emergency function. We haven’t heard that at all,” Ridle said. “But, definitely, I’m sure people were inconvenienced.”

Ridle said many workers were able to log in using the computers of coworkers that weren’t affected. Computer technicians are expected to work to unlock computers Wednesday night and Thursday.

Andrew Kitchenman

State Government Reporter, Alaska Public Media & KTOO

State government plays an outsized role in the life of Alaskans. As the state continues to go through the painful process of deciding what its priorities are, I bring Alaskans to the scene of a government in transition.

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