Montgomery County Paid Hackers Demanded Ransom, Recovered Stolen Data

With the recent cyber attack in Alabama last week caused by the unidentified hackers affecting the Montgomery County, the local officials here made a decision to pay the demanded ransom amounting to $37,000-$50,000 (worth of Bitcoin).

They needed to force themselves to settle the required amount to prevent compromising almost 70 terabytes of stolen data.

According from the news report online through Reuters, the hackers only gave the Montgomery County at least seven days to comply with their demand. If they failed so, these abusive human beings will be deleting all the stolen data from the county’s servers. The news added that the hacking group was able to compromise the data through the ransomware attack successfully, as detailed by the Montgomery Adviser.

In line with this issue, Elton Dean who is the County Commission Chairman revealed that the affected files cost about $5 million and he considered this latest cyber crime by the hackers as an urgent situation.  He led the emergency meeting to discuss about the ransom amount and on where they will get the money to pay.

During an interview with RT America, Hannah Hawk said that the officials of Montgomery needed to pay the hackers forcefully so that they can access the hacked information again. Hawk added that the county paid at least 9 Bitcoin on Friday as demanded by the hacking group.

Hannah Hawk is the representative of Montgomery County in Alabama.

From the information shared through Fox Business, a Montgomery County Commission representative stated that Lou Lalicci and his team diligently made an effort to recover the stolen data. However, the sad thing is that they still paid the demanded ransom amount to the hackers. The representative added that they recovered all the affected data files after paying half of the amount on Saturday and the remaining half amount on Sunday.

Lou Lalicci is the current IT Director of Montgomery County.

The county’s Public Affairs revealed the ransomware hacking issue last September 19 and during that time, the data are still accessible to their systems. Unfortunately, the problem starts the next day when they fail to access the files and even announcing that the tax filing server of the county is down.

The hackers controlled the data on the exact date of business tax paying deadline. They were able to “locked up” the system of Montgomery County and so the probate office did not get an access to process the different transactions for vehicle tags, registrations and for business as well as marriage licenses, added by the news report online.

The county likewise asked the Federal Bureau Investigation (FBI) to help them investigate the attack, which occurred last week. On the other hand, the FBI somehow does not appreciate the decision of Montgomery.

“Paying a ransom doesn’t guarantee an organization that it will get its data back,” stated by the FBI as quoted by rt.com online.

 

“There have been cases where organizations never got a decryption key after having paid the ransom,” said the FBI through its official webpage Cyber Crime. “Paying a ransom not only emboldens current cyber criminals to target more organizations, it also offers an incentive for other criminals to get involved in this type of illegal activity. And by paying a ransom, an organization might inadvertently be funding other illicit activity associated with criminals,” the statement continued.

 

In defense on the paid ransom amount, Lalacci however revealed that the hackers did not agree to restore all the stolen data, unless they received the payment and assured that they will not compromise any information afterwards. He added that the hacking group considered themselves as modern day Robin Hood because they use the money to help those needy people.

Alabama is one of the biggest states in America and it is not the only area that experienced this kind of cyber attack.

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