Midstate police dept. hacked, raising questions about risks

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Oct 4, 2016 3:45 PM

(Harrisburg) -- In recent years, major corporations, the federal government, and even the Democratic National Committee have been hacked for information.

Here in the midstate, a police department was targeted, but for a different reason.

The hackers were after money.

A staffer at the Mount Holly Springs Police Department in Cumberland County reportedly opened an email that looked to be from FedEx, and that froze a bunch of files.

The department's chief says no case files were at risk, and the hackers wanted a ransom, which the department didn't pay.

But Thomas Gross, head of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, says the incident illustrates the risk.

"Well I would say, when you look at technology, this challenges of a smaller department can be bigger just because of the limited resources and how sophisticated some of these systems are today," says Gross.

Gross says state and federal databases are generally more secure than networks at local police departments, which can leave them vulnerable.

He says he isn't aware of hackers going after confidential material, but he says if they did, the effects could be terrible.

"You can have anything from confidential investigative material to photographs that could be really horrific photographs of crime scenes or accident scenes," he adds.

Experts generally recommend backing up files and carefully choosing which emails to open.

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