Pottawatomie Co. pays hacker over $70,000 to restore computer systems

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Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 2:26 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Pottawatomie Co. officials have confirmed the amount of money they paid after a cyber attack on Pottawatomie County IT systems.

The County says that the original ransom demand was $1 million, but they ultimately paid $71,250 to the threat actor and $356.25 in exchange fees to facilitate the cyber currency payment. They say the payment was made from the General Fund, and that a ‘substantial portion’ will be refunded by the self-insurance pool. $5,000 has since been spent on enhanced decryption software needed to unlock the affected files.

The county says the investigation continues, with expert advisors and IT staff looking into how much private data may have been seen. They also say County offices are open and serving the public.

County Administrator Chad Kinsley wrote in a statement they hardened systems while negotiating with the hackers and believe they are much less vulnerable to any subsequent attack. He went on to say -- the hackers demonstrated they had seen private data, they paid them to protect their constituents and prevent it from going public He says it’s important to note they are not the only county that has experienced a cyberattack.

Experts say that hackers know that if they release information following a ransom payment, future victims will refuse to pay.

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