$1.1M paid to resolve ransomware attack on San Bernardino County sheriff's department

A $1.1 million payment was made to resolve a ransomware attack on the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. 

The department announced in April that a "network disruption" was being investigated by information technology staff and forensic specialists, and that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security were notified.

County spokesperson David Wert said the county paid $511,852 and the remainder was covered by insurance.

"The decision whether to render payment was the subject of careful consideration," Wert said.

"The decision whether to render payment was the subject of careful consideration. On balance, and consistent with how other agencies have handled these types of situations, this was determined to be the responsible course," the department said in a statement. 

Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Gloria Huerta said an investigation is continuing to try to determine whether any information was stolen and whether the ransom payment can be traced to identify the hacker.

Sheriff Shannon Dicus said this week that public safety wasn’t compromised by the ransomware attack but it hindered some tasks.

Deputies, for example, could not access a system that provides information on whether a person is wanted for crimes elsewhere in the country, so they had to request that other agencies make the record checks, Dicus said.

Ransomware involves hackers essentially holding a computer system hostage by encrypting its files and demanding payment in exchange for the software key.