Brockton PD under cyberattack, police and fire forced to go old school

BROCKTON, Mass. — It’s 2021, which means everyone uses technology and that means you are vulnerable to ransomware, even if you are the police.

“You wouldn’t expect it to happen,” said Brockton resident Holly Depina.

The City of Brockton confirmed that it’s investigating the source of a cyberattack on its police department.

“Is this a joke?” asked Brockton resident Carol Barron.

No, it’s not. We’re as serious as a ransomware attack. For the last few days, Brockton Police have had to put away their laptops and computers and go old school with a pen and a pad. As a precaution, the Brockton Fire Department shut down its systems to make sure they weren’t infected.

Boston 25 security analyst Dan Linskey said, despite the attack, work won’t stop; however, it may slow down.

“I’m sure they can call over to the local town around them or the Regional Dispatch Center,” Linskey said. “Someone’s going to have something. So, it’s going to be harder, but that’s the way, in 1986 when I started, that’s the way we did motor vehicle checks. There was no computer database. You called someone on the radio, they called it in, typed it into the mainframe and got back to you. Sometimes 10, 15 minutes later.”

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He said departments should have their data backed-up every 12 hours so anything lost can be restored quickly.

“If anyone says they’re not going to get hacked, unfortunately in today’s world, that’s just not a likely option,” Linskey said. “You’re going to be hacked. You have to respond quickly, robustly, and back up systems to make sure your data doesn’t get destroyed.”

People we spoke with said they still have confidence in the police and fire departments but not in technology.

“That a little scary because if they are capable of getting through their system, then that’s a big problem,” Depina said.

A spokesman for the city said this has obviously disrupted the normal system but there are safeguards in place. They don’t know how much longer before they can be up and running. Sources tell Boston 25 News both city and federal authorities are investigating this to see if it was done locally, nationally or even internationally.

They said they don’t know the extent of the attack but are looking for ways to rectify it ASAP. They also said this is a first for them.

Mayor Robert Sullivan released this statement on the cyberattack on Wednesday:

“The City of Brockton is currently investigating a cyberattack on its Police Department computer systems. This event has not halted our ability to respond to emergency calls, patrol the Brockton community, or perform our vital policing functions. We have no reason to believe this was a targeted attack. Although other City departments have taken precautionary measures in response to the attack, those departments continue to perform their vital functions as well. Upon discovery of the event, we immediately began working with computer forensic specialists to investigate the incident and our internal information technology staff has been working diligently to restore the systems at the Police Department to full technical functionality as quickly as possible. We also immediately notified federal and state law enforcement authorities of the attack, and our investigation into its source is ongoing. While we work to determine the full impact and continue to review activity, we are unable to provide additional comment at this time.”

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