Cops Pay Ransom to Hackers to Get Their Files Back

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According to the Boston Globe, the Tewksbury, Massachusetts, police department was so desperate to get the information from their computers that had been encrypted by hackers, they ended up paying the requested sum of $500 for the decryption key. And they aren't the only police department that has resorted to paying hackers in so-called "ransomware" schemes. From the Globe:

"At first, the problems with the Tewksbury Police Department system — difficulty calling up arrest and incident records — seemed to be just the usual system crankiness. No big deal.

But it persisted, and a technician was called in.

That was when the menacing message popped up on the screen, an explanation in the form of a ransom note:

“Your personal files are encrypted,” it read. “File decryption costs ~ $500.”

It continued: “If you really value your data, then we suggest you do not waste valuable time searching for other solutions because they do not exist."

Because they hadn't backed up their systems, the Tewksbury Police were in a terrible position. Read the rest of the story, as well as that of the other U.S. police departments that have fallen victim to the same schemes, at the Boston Globe.

Hidden in the article is the problem with using a single hard drive for backup. This sort of ransom would be far less effective in the days of tape backup. The solution is to use an online backup with versioning or swap hard drives like we used to swap tapes.
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