Massachusetts police have admitted to paying a bitcoin ransom after being infected by the Crypt locker ransomware.
The Cryptolocker malware infects a computer, normally via a legitimate-looking email that urges the reader to open an attachment often posing as a voicemail, fax, invoice or details of a suspicious transaction that is being queried.
Once the Windows computer is infected, the malware encrypts the user's hard drive and then begins displaying a countdown timer, while demanding payment for the release of the data of 2 bitcoins – an almost untraceable, peer-to-peer digital online currency – which at current exchange rates equates to about £832 or $1338.
“(The virus) is so complicated and successful that you have to buy these bitcoins, which we had never heard of,” Swansea Police Lt. Gregory Ryan talking to the Herald News. “It was an education for (those who) had to deal with it.”
Ryan insisted that the Massachusetts police systems were now clear of infection, and that essential operational computers were not affected, nor was there any data stolen.
The FBI is currently investigating the virus infection of the police computer, which is thought to have evolved over the last year and originated from somewhere within former Soviet nations such as Ukraine and Russia.