Hackers submitting faked invoices to local fire districts got at least one payoff, and taught local agencies a lesson in network security.
On Jan. 22, the city of Snoqualmie, which provides information technology services to King County Fire Protection District 45, paid a ransom of $750 to hackers who had taken control and encrypted files on a computer at the fire district. The ransom was required to unlock a computer on the district's network, which was encrypted Jan. 7, when an employee clicked a link in a fake e-mail message.
The e-mail looked like an invoice from the fire district's dispatch center, said Fire Chief David Burke. When an employee opened the email and clicked the link, a program started encrypting all the files on that computer.
Burke said the scam email was nearly identical to the real invoices the district receives for dispatch services.
The attack did not affect essential files.
"None of the financials, payroll, none of those things were accessible," Burke said. "It was more of our daily documents, policies procedures, etc."