Madison County to pay hackers, won’t disclose ransom

(WISH Photo)
(WISH Photo)

ANDERSON, Ind. (WISH) — Madison County will pay an undisclosed ransom to hackers who attacked the county government’s computer system.

Sheriff Scott Mellinger said the hack is keeping county workers from emails, files and internet access. He said calls are coming into the 911 dispatch center with no problems.

“Public safety has not been put at risk in any way, shape or form,” Mellinger said.

People who try to use the computers are met with an error message.

Government employees are doing paperwork by hand while Indiana State Police try to find the hackers. Madison County Commissioner Jeff Harden said the hack won’t affect voting records or ballots.

County leaders said the hackers infected computers with software that freezes a computer system until a ransom is paid.

Madison County Commissioner Jeff Harden said investigators advised the county to pay the ransom requested by hackers.

“It’s a minimal amount and we’re going to pay it,” Harden said.

Harden refused to say what the ransom is.

“We can’t divulge that,” he said. “We were advised not to just because of security reasons.”

The county is insured against cyber attacks and insurance will cover most of the ransom, Harden said.

Jail workers are logging inmate information with paper and pen. Deputies who use computers in their patrol cars now have to call other agencies to find someone’s criminal record.

Harden said he hopes the system will be back up by Wednesday.

“These types of people are usually ones that, they’re not interested in our information. They’re just crooks,” Harden said. “They want the money and they want to be gone.”

County offices are closed Tuesday for Election Day.

Harden said the county will evaluate their cyber security to prevent an attack from happening again.