After Review, Officials Decide Not To Pay Ransom For Stolen Brattleboro Fire Dept. Files

Sep 9, 2016

On the morning of Aug. 22, the Brattleboro Fire department discovered their computer system had been hacked and that files were stolen and encrypted.

The hackers demanded a ransom of about $2,600 to be paid in bitcoins.

Brattleboro Town Manager Peter Elwell said the payroll information was the most sensitive data that the hackers accessed.

He said after reviewing what files were stolen, the town decided not to pay the ransom.

“The data that would be lost was not irreplaceable,” Elwell said. “We certainly could take the position that we're not going to pay the ransom, we'd just put things back in service and keep going, and that's what we did."

Elwell said the city informed employees whose payroll data had been stolen and also alerted the Brattleboro Police and the Vermont Attorney General’s Office.

At the time of the hack, Elwell said the town knew their computer systems needed a security upgrade and they were in the process of updating them.

“Unfortunately, we were part way complete not all the way complete with that work and the fire department was one location we had not yet gotten to,” Elwell said. “Since Aug. 22, not only has the security upgrade completed at the fire department but at every other place in town.”

Elwell said he can’t say for sure that this will never happen again, but that the town is being proactive and taking steps to prevent future attacks.

““What I can say is we were already in the process of taking the steps to improve our security and protection in our IT systems and we’ve now completed that work," Elwell said. "We’re significantly more secure today than we were a couple of months back.”