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Cybercriminals Hacked Houlton Police Department

Wagmtv.com reported on 11th April, 2015 that the computer system of Houlton Police Department in Maine (US) was recently hacked by cybercriminals as quoted by the department.

Joe McKenna, Chief of Police of Houlton, confirmed that his department was one of the few in the state to be infected by a virus commonly known as "ransomware." Bangordailynews.com published a report on 13th April, 2015 stating that the police departments of Lincoln County Sheriff's Office were also victimized.

McKenna said that he opened an attachment enclosed in an email containing the virus due to which his computer got infected.

The empty attachment was carrying a computer virus which got activated the moment the computer was restarted.

McKenna said that it locked my computer completely including everything such as emails, our photos, word documents and reports.

McKenna first contacted a local computer specialist who told him that the virus cannot be removed by any method. Then he called the local Homeland Security office and their computer guy checked the computer and also said that the computer has been screwed. After that, a third person of Madawaska was consulted and he told the same thing: The only way to get back the documents was to pay the ransom money of $588 in bitcoins which is a form of online currency that is difficult to trace.

After such annoying attack, the department wishes to make its system less vulnerable to such type of attacks. The department said that they will have more training on how to protect themselves from computer virus and how to inform about the virus.

Meanwhile, cases of ransomware appeared to occur more often than ever resulting many law enforcement departments all over the U.S. end up paying ransom amount to get back their files.

The Washington Post reported that during last summer, FBI, foreign governments and private security firms dismantled a Russian operation which seized around million computers and collected money from bank accounts. The operation included a ransomware scheme and officials said that they had identified the operator as a 30 year old Russian but had not arrested him.

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