Ransomware Hacker Demands $5.3 Million of New Bedford, Mass.

New Bedford was hit with a ransomware attack in July, during which the perpetrators demanded $5.3 million. Officials recently revealed that the attack caused a widespread shutdown of city computers.

by Jennette Barnes, The Standard-Times / September 5, 2019
Shutterstock/JMiks

(TNS) — New Bedford, Mass., was hit with a ransomware attack demanding $5.3 million in July, Mayor Jon Mitchell said Wednesday.

After months of keeping quiet about the true nature of the attack, Mitchell acknowledged that ransomware caused the widespread shutdown of city computers that began July 5. The city previously blamed the problem on a virus.

In remarks prepared for delivery at 2 p.m., Mitchell said the attacker demanded a Bitcoin payment equal to $5.3 million. The mayor was initially loathe to negotiate with the attacker, but he said the city was forced to consider whether the effort required to restore the computers without a decryption key might justify talks.

The city decided to offer $400,000 from insurance proceeds, which is in line with what other cities have paid in similar situations, the mayor said.

The attacker rejected the offer and made no counter offer, according to Mitchell. Rather than raise its offer, the city opted to recover on its own.

Mitchell said the city is not aware of any theft of residents' personal data but cannot rule it out because "certain log data" is encrypted. The city will provide public legal notice and "appropriate supports" related to personal data theft, regardless of whether it is legally required to do so, Mitchell said.

He was scheduled to hold a press conference at 2 p.m. at City Hall.

©2019 The Standard-Times, New Bedford, Mass. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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