Ransomware Causes Dallas Police to Lose 8 Years of Evidence

Government (U.S.) // Dallas, Texas

A police station in Dallas lost digital evidence, such as videos and photos, when it cleaned up from a ransomware attack after deciding not to pay.

The Cockrell Hill Police Department’s servers were infected Dec. 12 by a ransomware virus that demanded $4,000 in bitcoins. The department, after consulting with the FBI cyber crime unit, opted not to pay the ransom and wiped the servers, according to a department statement.

But some evidence was lost, which came up in court for the first time Jan. 25, according to a WFAA report.

The virus corrupted files dating back to 2009, including all Microsoft Office Suite files and body camera videos, as well as some in-car video, surveillance video and photos. Some material was backed up on hard copies, CDs and DVDs, but not all, and the department’s automatic backup simply backed up infected files.

The Chief of Police Stephen Barlag told WFAA none of the lost evidence was critical information, but defense attorney J. Collin Beggs said, “Well, that depends on what side of the jail cell you’re sitting.”