Dickson County Sheriff's Malware Ransom: Police Pay Hacker to Release Their Files

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles, Calif., Oct. 13, 2009. |

The Dickson County sheriff's office got malware and had to pay over $500 in ransom to hackers to get rid of it, according to reports. The malicious software known as "Cryptowall" locked the Tennessee officers' files in whats known as a "ransomware" scheme.

The Dickson County sheriff's office was infected with the malware when a staff member clicked on an ad from a local radio station, said Detective Jeff McCliss, the IT director for the station. The files that were blocked off were investigation files that were vital to the station.

"Every sort of document that you could develop in an investigation was in that folder. There was a total of 72,000 files," McCliss told WTVF-TV.

The detective went to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and then to the FBI, but they told him that losing the files were too important. The police department ended up having to pay the hacker, known only as "Nimrod Gruber," $572 worth of bitcoin to unlock their files.

"Although a substantial portion of the data encrypted on the report management server was able to be restored from backups, there were still approximately 72,000 files affected on the host computer, which introduced the malware to the network and the report management system and the attached drives," Sheriff Bledsoe told The Dickson Herald.

It doesn't appear that the sheriff's office was targeted, just victims of malware.

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