News Column

Ransomware virus infects police dept. computers

June 7, 2014

By Casey Conley, Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.



June 07--DURHAM -- A computer virus infected the Durham Police Department's servers and computer network Friday, and its creators demanded a ransom to eradicate it.

The town's information technology staff has taken the department's system offline to prevent the virus from spreading to other computers, Town Administrator Todd Selig said. Scrubbing software installed on the computers Friday afternoon appeared to have isolated the malicious software.

"It is believed the facility will be up and running again by this evening. I am quite certain the cost of this effort will not be insignificant but I have no details at this time," Selig said Friday.

Town officials believe the virus entered its computer systems after an employee opened what appeared to be a legitimate attachment late Thursday night. By Friday morning, there was evidence of widespread computer problems.

By around noon, Police Chief Dave Kurz described the department's computers as "dead in the water."

All of Durham's police department files are backed up and can be reloaded.

For that reason, the virus never posed "a catastrophic problem," Selig said.

"It's more of an inconvenience and lost work time for staff because nobody is able to use their computer."

Luke Vincent, Durham's Manager of Information Technology, said Cryptowall virus bypassed the town's spam filters and its anti-virus software. The "ransomware" virus encrypts files and then requires ransom to remove the software.

Selig said the typical ransom is between $500 and $1,000 dollars. The ransom amount in this case was not specified.

"In order to know for sure, we have to go to a separate site and we have no intention of going to that site," he said.

The town also does not plan to pay the ransom.

"Make no mistake, the Town of Durham will be paying no ransom," Selig said. "Our capable technology staff and third-party contractors will guide us through this unfortunate incident."

___

(c)2014 the Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.)

Visit the Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, N.H.) at www.fosters.com

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Source: Foster's Daily Democrat (Dover, NH)


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