Clarke County dispatch servers hacked, money demanded

Published: Jul. 15, 2020 at 8:41 PM CDT
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CLARKE COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - An investigation is underway after it was determined Clarke County’s dispatch service was hacked over the weekend.

“They gained access to the server, placed a virus on it, got what they wanted, executed the virus and cleaned up their tracks,” Clarke County IT Scott Evans says.

The hack took place around 1:00 a.m. Sunday. The hackers encrypted all of the information, which would normally be accessible by dispatchers.

“Every radio call that a deputy sheriff or police officer made into there, calling in driver’s licenses and pertinent information, is now being held hostage by a foreign entity,” Clarke County Sheriff Todd Kemp says.

Scott Evans, who does IT for Clarke County, says there was a backup put in place. He says that backup was on the same network as the original server, therefore it was also hacked.

“As soon as this drive became encrypted, it immediately encrypted the other one. When you’re backing up in the same case, it’s not really backing up. It’s just copying your files,” Evans explained in the meeting.

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors are now debating on whether or not to pay a ransom. That’s right, a ransom note was left behind by the hackers demanding $10,000 within the next seven days. If that’s not agreed to, then it will double.

This method of hacking is not uncommon. It recently happened in Carroll County. In that situation hackers demanded nearly $300,000.

The way it was explained in the meeting was that the dispatch system was put together and maintained by Comsouth and had software operated by EFORCE.

When trying to determine what happened, the sheriff’s department was going to take possession of the server, but they were met with opposition from Comsouth employees.

“We came over here to get the servers on Monday. Individuals with the company that you do business with tried to hide that information from us. They took it out to van and refused to give it to us,” Kemp said to the Board of Supervisors Wednesday afternoon. “I got a problem with that. I was asked to do a job. My job to ensure the safety and integrity of people in this county and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Kemp says the case is being handled by the FBI. Meanwhile, dispatchers are working by pen and paper.

The Supervisors will meet on Monday to further discuss the matter.

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