Pass Christian city computers hacked, demand ransom

Pass Christian city computers hacked, demand ransom

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Pass Christian city computers were  hacked this month, with a warning to pay a ransom.

According to Pass Christian City Attorney Malcolm Jones, when city hall employees arrived at work on Nov. 7, they couldn't access emails or software. A warning also popped up on the computers, demanding a ransom equivalent to more than $30,000 or the system would remain blocked.

The information technology specialist discovered that all 50 computers were hacked.

City leaders believe an employee received an email from a familiar source and opened an attachment that was tainted with a virus. The IT specialist was able to track down the hacker to somewhere in Europe, but could not confirm the exact location.

"I felt like anybody else would feel if their business or home had been invaded. We were not happy at all, and we were determined that we were going to get our system back up and running very shortly, and we weren't going to be affected by some blackmailer," said Jones.

Jones says the city had a backup system, so it did not lose any data. No personal data from citizens or employees were obtained by the hacker. The city fixed the problem in three days, but during that time, they had no access to payroll, emails or billing information.

The city has added safeguards and training sessions to prevent the issue from happening again. Leaders have also notified state and federal agencies about the problem.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.