TribLIVE

| News


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Massachusetts police duped by hackers, pay $750 in ransom

Related Stories

Daily Photo Galleries

Monday, June 2, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
 

Not even police were immune from Russian hackers' “Cryptolocker” malware.

In October, the hackers locked up computers holding investigative materials, administrative documents and seven years' worth of digital mug shots belonging to the police department in Swansea, a small town in southern Massachusetts, according to a federal complaint unsealed on Monday.

Swansea police found themselves facing a stark choice: risk losing the information forever or pay the hackers' ransom of $750 — payable in electronic bitcoins.

The Swansea police computers were among about 230,000 infected computers worldwide held hostage, including 120,000 in the United States, federal officials said.

With the clock ticking down on a 72-hour deadline, Swansea officials gave in and paid up, Lt. Gregory Ryan told the Tribune-Review. To their surprise, they received the electronic code key to unlock the system.

But police worried the hackers might come back. Swansea started using computers in 1994, and many of the 40 sworn officers and civilians on the force remembered doing everything on paper, he said.

So the entire department went offline while Swansea police improved their computer security. Ryan declined to talk about the changes and referred follow-up questions to the Justice Department.

“You can't make yourself 100 percent foolproof,” Ryan said, “but you just want to make sure your pants don't fall down around your ankles.”

Andrew Conte is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7835 or andrewconte@tribweb.com.

Add Andrew Conte to your Google+ circles.

 

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Stories

  1. Five questions facing Steelers entering training camp
  2. Steelers cut linebacker Kion Wilson, sign cornerback Toler
  3. North Huntingdon woman charged with threatening to burn down officer’s house
  4. Pirates’ Melancon has been consistent since moving into closer’s role
  5. Baby girl dies when run over by pickup truck in Indiana County
  6. Israel hits 30 Gaza homes, kills senior militant
  7. Amazon.com distribution center planned for Pittsburgh’s West End
  8. Heyl: Gravy train comes to an abrupt halt for Allegheny judges’ relatives
  9. Aliquippa father is charged by Beaver County DA in girls’ dresser death
  10. Well-traveled Clemons trying to find home with Carolina Panthers
  11. 2014 has been among deadliest for the world’s airline industry
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.