28 Criminal Charges Dismissed After Ransomware Corrupts Evidence

Ransomware Corrupted Police Files, Leaving Evidence Inaccessible

In April of 2019, the City of Stuart was infected with ransomware. Ransomware is a form of malicious software the will encrypt, or lock, files leaving them completely inaccessible. From there, the hackers demand a payment in exchange for a decryption key. For Stuart, Florida, that price tag was set at $300,000. The City opted not to pay, following the advice of the FBI.

By choosing not to pay, the City was left to restore its networks by using backup files. Meaning, anything that was not backed up, was lost. Unfortunately, that included several police files — much of which was evidence for pending trials. Due to the loss of evidence, trying alleged criminals became incredibly difficult. Impossible actually, which is why 28 counts of criminal drug charges have been dismissed against six different defendants. These charges include meth possession, cocaine possession, selling, manufacturing, or delivering various narcotics, and the illegal use of a two-way communication device.

How Did This Happen?

The exact method of intrusion is unknown. However, one thing is clear. The security solution the City was using at the time of infection, McAfee*, didn’t work.

*Information obtained from public, government contracts.

Other Attacks

This is far from the first ransomware attack and is just one of 19 publicized attacks in the state of Florida. To learn more about the attacks occurring nationwide, and what security solutions are failing to protect American municipalities, check out the Ransomware Center.

  

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