Maine police pay ransom to hackers to get files back

Some Maine police agencies say they have had no other choice than to pay a ransom to computer hackers to get their police records back.

Computers at the Lincoln County sheriff's office were recently infiltrated by a type of virus called ransomware. It locked up the system and held police records hostage.

Sheriff Todd Brackett told WCSH-TV that after several attempts to retrieve the records, his agency paid a ransom of about $300 to the creator of the to get their files back.

Brackett says the FBI helped track the payment to a Swiss bank account but efforts to identify the got no further.

Also in Maine, Houlton Police Department computers were held hostage and the says the department ended up paying a ransom.

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Citation: Maine police pay ransom to hackers to get files back (2015, April 11) retrieved 20 August 2019 from
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Apr 11, 2015
It looks like they need to learn to backup their files and some basic computer security. Being infected in the first place shows a fundamental failure but not being able to recover their data from backups is just incompetence.

A home user might be expected to make this sort of foolish mistake but law enforcement and businesses should be much better prepared. If they don't have the IT skills within their organisation there are many consultants that can setup a backup system and train their personnel to use it.

Twenty years ago, I worked for a company that did branch level server backups overnight and all it required was for someone, with no IT skills, to swap the backup tapes each morning to the next one in the rotation. They would also take some of the tapes home to allow recovery if the office burned down.

Today, backup approaches are much more user friendly and it is a simple task for anyone with basic computing skills to setup.

Apr 11, 2015
@rp142 totally agree, but on top that these guys were extremely lucky. The people are criminals, there is no reason they have to "unlock" the data after they paid the ransom. It is nice that these police departments got taken by "honest criminals". Not mention just think of what kind of personal information might in that data, that if these criminals look at more closely, might sell to others.

Apr 12, 2015
$300? Wouldn't want to come across as 'greedy'.

Apr 12, 2015
I read about a guy that had the same thing happen to him. He solved the problem by using a Linux machine to copy the files to another hard drive but don't ask me how that worked.

Apr 12, 2015
These criminals are running their attacks as a business model aimed at extracting payments. That generally means they will provide the key to recover encrypted files and their price is set low enough that some will pay but high enough to satisfy the criminals.

Rewarding criminal behaviour is never a good idea. Those that pay these ransoms are part of the problem. Never paying the criminals removes their incentive to carry out these attacks.

Since law enforcement and security agencies are trying to prevent us from defending ourselves against hackers, by limiting us to weak or no encryption, is it little amusing to see them being attacked.

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