Murfreesboro police, fire fight to recover data stolen by ransom - WSMV News 4

Murfreesboro police, fire fight to recover data stolen by ransomware

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

The Murfreesboro Police and Fire departments were attacked by a computer virus Saturday.

Thursday, a spokesperson said Police Chief Karl Durr spent the day with the public safety IT team working to fix the problem.

Channel 4 asked if confidential information could be at risk now that hackers have stolen police files.

The "WannaCry" virus just launched in May and IT professionals say it's already one of the fastest spreading ransomware computer viruses in history.

"If you get infected with it, it will encrypt all the files on your computer so you're no longer able to access them," said Joshua Boyd, an IT professional of 15 years, and the CEO of Computer Pros, a computer and technology store in Green Hills.

The people behind the virus want money in exchange for the files they've taken hostage.

"It tells you to call a certain phone number and to give these people your credit card number, and they will charge you to decrypt your files and give you access back to them again. Pretty nasty," Boyd said.

Murfreesboro police said 19 computers and two file servers have been infected. Police said the data on the computers is irretrievable but can't say if any evidence or case files are completely gone.

"All it takes is one person at an organization opening up a bad email, or clicking on a bad link, and getting infected, and then it can spread throughout your entire network," Boyd said.

If any investigative files or reports were stored on the police desktop computers, they could leave sensitive data in the hands of criminals. Boyd said that would be the case with any company that fell victim to the virus.

"If they have employees' social security numbers or something like that, then depending on the organization, if they really want to go deeper, then they could also use that information to their advantage," Boyd said. "Once the data has been compromised, depending on what data has been compromised, anything's possible at that point.”

Boyd said the people behind the attacks usually go after companies or agencies that may have the money to pay the ransom. They are rarely caught.

"There’s very little possibility that you're going to be able to track down who's done this," Boyd said. "They're typically overseas, and a lot of times they're in countries that the government protects them from international prosecution.”

Police said this has not impacted emergency response times or their police work. A spokesperson said all investigative files are also on hard copy.

Channel 4 is awaiting answers to questions about the department's anti-virus protection procedures, their most recent computers back up protocol, and if any private information has been compromised.

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