Cyber-terrorism in Salisbury

Today most people assume that the United States is free from cyber-attacks, while it is a target mark for most hackers worldwide. On Wednesday, 9th January 2020, it was supposed to be another typical morning for the Salisbury police department.

Indeed, it was a morning until personnel in the police department began trying to access the recent arrest reports, emails, and crime data from last night. That’s when Capt. Rich Kaiser reported that they have realized something is wrong.

A ransomware attack compromised the entire internal computer network of the Salisbury police department. This type of cyber-attack leaves the computer network files paralyzed since they are locked and encrypted by the cyber-terrorist, who later demands payment in exchange for the keycode.

According to the Information Technology service director Bill Garrett, calls from the police personnel who were unable to access their files started coming in early 6 a.m. that day.

Bill Garrett said that “we responded to the ransomware attack quickly by isolating every workstation in the building from the infected ones. We also disabled the building from network access to the globe, to prevent further damage.”

In the case of the Salisbury department attack, Kaiser said that “officials tried to negotiate with the cyber-terrorist who was asking for an unknown amount of money, but we terminated the negotiations.” He also stated that the agency had faced three other attacks in the past five years, but the Salisbury police department cyber-attack is something they had never seen before.

This is cited as one of the worst computer attacks in S.P.D history. Kaiser said, “the cyber-attack takes a different root since the investigation shows that the cyber-terrorist successfully entered into our network using a software vendor that we haven’t used for years.”

The head of the information service said that “the past attacks were easy to clean up since they consisted of personal clicking on an email, opening the attachments, or visiting a website they were not supposed to visit, but the recent one gained more access to the police department network.

The cyber-attack was gigantic since it had batches of data. Therefore, it was more challenging to clean up.

Even though the attacker held vital data records, emails and network servers were affected. There is no crime file or system data lost since the police department had a file backup system.

On 11th January 2020, the systems were back up and running, and the supplemental systems were online three days later. Even though some data was not accessible, the agency tried its best to recreate the data from the first-hand sources ensuring the systems were operating at 100% by the end of that week.