SALISBURY, Md. - The City of Salisbury experienced a ransomware attack earlier this month that could have put its police department cyber network in jeopardy.
On January 9, Captain Rich Kaiser with the Salisbury Police Department said officers were unable to get into their computer database.
"Went to start checking emails and different reports and things like that and noticed we didn't have access to it and ultimately noticed that these things were locked," Kaiser said.
Director of Information Systems Bill Garrett went into the back end of the software and realized a hacker had locked down some important software and was demanding money. Luckily, police said the hacker did not download or steal any of the files within the department's system.
"In this case it was just to encrypt some files and try to extort some money out of us," Garrett said.
Garrett said the city's software vendor was hacked and put their system in jeopardy because of the client database.
"The prime way of mitigating or coming back from a ransomware attack is through back up files. So we didn't need them, we didn't need their key. It kind of disadvantaged the department for a few days while we restored everything, but we had backups so they lost nothing," Garrett said.
The city never paid the hacker and the I.T. department was eventually able to get back those locked files in the network.
Garrett said the police department has been hacked a couple of times before, but was never this severe. During a weekly interactive briefing, Kaiser called this ransomware attack "the worst computer network attack in Salisbury Police Department history."
Garrett said his department is working to improve cyber security measures so the city is equipped to handle this situation if it were to happen again in Salisbury.
The FBI has been called in to help find the hacker, where they're located and how it got into the network. Salisbury Police said progress has been made, but cannot release any further information about the hacker at this time.