San Bernardino County paid a $1.1 million ransom on Friday to hackers who infiltrated the sheriff’s department network.
“The network disruption within the Sheriff’s Department was the result of ransomware that infected portions of the department’s information technology system,” said county officials.
Authorities became aware of the attack on April 7 and took steps to secure the system while working with information technology staff and forensic specialists to investigate the infiltration.
County officials said most of the ransom payment was covered by insurance, while the county’s share of payment totaled $511,852.
“The decision whether to render payment was the subject of careful consideration,” said spokesperson David Wert. “On balance and consistent with how other agencies have handled these types of situations, this was determined to be the responsible course.”
Since the hack on April 7, few details have been released. Authorities said the ransomware attack did not compromise public safety or impact county/law enforcement operations.
“As part of its ongoing criminal investigation, the Sheriff’s Department is conducting a forensic examination to achieve a full understanding of the incident, the findings of which will benefit all public agencies looking to avoid a similar occurrence,” said Wert. “Additional information on this matter cannot be disclosed at this time in light of the ongoing criminal investigation.”
Ransomware attacks typically involve hackers encrypting files on a device or system and rendering them unusable. They’ll hold those files hostage and demand a ransom in exchange for the files’ decryption.