Crypto-malware ransom has been paid by the US Police Department of the Midlothian Village in Illinois this January. The department was hit by ransomware as a police representative opened an email that pointed to malicious software and the computer’ files were encrypted. Since the backup data was encrypted with the rest of the files and was thus useless, the police department had no choice but to follow the demands of the hackers in order to get back their police records.
Many File-Locking Attacks
Unfortunately, that cybercriminals attack on that US Police Department is not an isolated case. The attackers follow one scheme – the ransomeware hits certain files from different document types and then encrypts them. Once the file-locking process is completed, the victim receives a pop up message, informing him of the amount due and the various payment options. The decoding key is at the cybercriminals and they release it once the payment is made.
The situation with the US Police Department of the Midlothian Village in Illinois is not isolated as other police departments in the United States had suffered from such attacks and have also paid the ransom asked for. In October 2014, the Office of the Sheriff in Dickson County, Tennessee paid to the cybercriminals a fee of 500 USD in order to get the decoding key for 72 000 important files. In November 2014, the Police Department at Swansea paid a similar ransom, as its computers were hit by Cryptolocker.
Some of the US Police Departments however, did not answer the demands of the hackers. One such example is the Durham Police Department, New Hampshire. The officers had a backup of their entire data, which was kept safe and unaffected. The Collinsville Police Department, Alabama, also refused to pay the ransom and they even did not have backup at all.
Encryption of the file backups
The main problem with the situation at the US Police Department of the Midlothian Village in Illinois was that even the backup files were stored in such a way as they were within the reach of the malware. That is why these backup files were also included in the malicious encryption process. For that reason, the department had to pay 606 USD in Bitcoins, as that was the demand of the cybercriminals.
The Experts’ Advice
The recommendation of the security experts when crypto-malware infections are concerned is for no ransom fee to be paid. The logic is that, if the cybercriminals understand that they cannot make money in that way, they will eventually stop the attacks.
In order to avoid losses due to that malware, the PC users need to create a backup system and safe copies of their information in an isolated device, as well as be very careful when opening fraudulent emails.