Leominster pays $10K in bitcoin to free up data from a ransomware attack

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Leominster school district located in the scenic locales of Worcester County, Massachusetts is reported to have paid $10k in bitcoin to free up data from the ransomware attack which encrypted its entire database early this month.

Mayor Dean J Mazzarella said that the ransom payment made for the cyber attack will be debited from the city’s general fund as it is not covered under the city’s insurance.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been asked to investigate the attack and as per the ‘Prima Facie’ available to the media, the malware attack was launched from outside the United States- probably from a prominent city in Europe.

Mr. Mazzarella said that the attack was very much sophisticated and gave full credit to the hackers. On further inquiry, the Mayor said that the school district’s critical data will from now be protected with the best of the technology and so incidents such as these will never get repeated.

Meanwhile, the school district staff are said to be using Gmail for internal correspondence and has also asked the students to use the same till the network gets back to normalcy.

In another press release, Interim Police Chief Micheal Goldman said that ransomware attacks on digital assets are hard to predict and so the only way to decrypt the database was to pay a ransom in exchange of the decryption key or to recover data from backups.

Mr. Goldman said that in the year 2015, Tewksbury Police
Department paid $500 to recover data from a malware attack of a similar sort. He added that paying a ‘ransom’ proves more economical than recovering the data from backups.

Despite regular alerts being issued by FBI and CIA to not pay ransom to hackers, some government entities and public organizations are found paying the money in cryptocurrency to recover data assets.

This activity encourages hackers in launching cyber attacks on entities and might turn fatal to the critical infrastructure operating in the United States and around the globe.

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Naveen Goud is a writer at Cybersecurity Insiders covering topics such as Mergers & Acquisitions, Startups, Cyber Attacks, Cloud Security and Mobile Security

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