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Tue Feb 14, 2017, 08:48 PM

A Police Department in Dallas Lost Years of Evidence After a Cyberattack

In early January, Collin Beggs, a criminal defense lawyer in Dallas, was talking with a Dallas County prosecutor about police video evidence that he'd been trying to get for months on behalf of one of his clients. The prosecutor explained that he wouldn't be receiving the video evidence he needed as part of a case involving the Cockrell Hill Police Department, which serves a town of about 4,300 people near Dallas. The reason? "They got hacked by Russians," Beggs tells Mother Jones, "and they held them up for ransom and took all their stuff. They didn't pay to get it back, so they lost all their videos.'"

"Russian hackers" have become part of the national conversation as a result of their alleged attempts to swing the presidential election, but cybercrime is as old as the internet and law enforcement agencies and other public institutions have not been spared. The Cockrell Hill Police Department is just the latest police department to fall victim to ransomware, an attack in which malicious software is installed on a computer after a link is clicked in an email or an email attachment is opened. Once installed, the software encrypts as many documents and folders as it can. A page will appear informing the victim that their files are locked, and they can only get them back by paying a certain amount of money. Bitcoin, a web-based currency that allows for more anonymity, is often the preferred currency.

It happened to the Tewksbury, Massachusetts, police department in December 2014; the Midlothian Police Department in suburban Chicago in January 2015; the Dickson County, Tennessee, sheriff's department in October 2014; and the Durham, New Hampshire, police department in June 2014. A ransomware attack hit the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Agency in November 2016 demanding roughly $73,000. A security researcher found that the attacker had "successfully extorted at least $140,000" from other organizations, including private companies, according to journalist Brian Krebs, a computer security reporter. Hospitals are perhaps the most frequent victims of ransomware attacks due to the value of medical information, according to some estimates.

Officials from the Cockrell Hill Police Department did not respond to requests for comment, but a statement issued by the department on January 25 reported that a server containing documents, videos, and photos dating back to 2009 was hit by "OSIRIS," a ransomware variant, on December 12. The attackers wanted roughly $4,000 worth of bitcoin to unlock the files. After consulting the FBI and the department's IT staff, and taking into account the possibility that the files might not be unlocked even if the $4,000 were paid, the decision was made to wipe the server and delete all its contents.


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Reply A Police Department in Dallas Lost Years of Evidence After a Cyberattack (Original post)
EarthFirst Feb 2017 OP
PoliticAverse Feb 2017 #1
EarthFirst Feb 2017 #2

Response to EarthFirst (Original post)

Tue Feb 14, 2017, 08:56 PM

1. If they only had a copy of the data on a single server it could have also been lost by a failure

of the server itself (due to some type of hardware failure). It is irresponsible to not have an offline backup
of important data.

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Response to PoliticAverse (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 14, 2017, 09:11 PM

2. Right.

This certainly highlights the failures of proper data management from a host of areas where it appears to be lacking in many departments.

This also highlights the essential need for the independent investigation on the heels of the Flynn resignation/firing surrounding foreign intervention.

Figured this was relevant enough to post...

Be well!

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