At approximately 10:30 a.m., Monday, May 2, it became apparent that the town of Whitefield’s computer system was breached by an unknown hacker demanding the town to pay an undetermined amount of money through the internet. Fortunately, all information was backed up as of Friday, April 29, and there was no need for the town to either pay the ransom or re-create nine months of transactions.
The ransom note was discovered on a desktop computer shortly after a series of anti-virus warnings. The text of the note follows:
“Your files are protected by a strong encryption RSA4096. More information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RSA_. Your files are encrypted with the public key, which has been transferred to your computer via the internet. Encrypting of your files is only possible with the help of a private key and decrypt program, which is on our secret server.
“There are two ways you can choose: wait for a miracle and get your price doubled, or start obtaining Bitcoin now and restore your data the easy way. We have really valuable data. You better not waste your time because there is no other way to get your files than make a payment.”
Bitcoin is a digital asset and a payment system involving peer-to-peer transactions that takes place between users directly and without an intermediary. The detective division at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was contacted immediately regarding the matter. Karl Richards, of KSR Technologies, did an excellent job of clearing the “Trojan” virus from the town’s system and retrieving all back-up information.
It is unclear how, or when, the virus attacked the town’s computer system, however, such viruses are known to occur when Adobe, Java, or Acrobat versions are not current. In addition, viruses can attack computer systems through email attachments or a webpage with benign script. This type of virus encrypts computer files so they cannot be opened by the user and there is no reason to believe that any sensitive data was captured by the hackers.
As a result of this breach, the town plans to strengthen its back-up system on site as well as revisit anti-virus protection