George W. Bush Presidential Center Data Team PAID RANSOM to Hackers Who Stole Data

( A data management team employed by the George W. Bush Presidential Center recently paid a ransom to hackers who stole personal data in return for that data to be destroyed. Information stolen by the hackers included personal data of Bush Center donors, which includes their names, contact details, and the sums of money contributed to the Center historically.

The Bush Center published an official statement explaining what happened.

“On July 16, 2020, we were notified by Blackbaud, a large provider of cloud-based data management services…that it had discovered and stopped a ransomware attack that occurred in May 2020,” the statement explains. “Blackbaud informed us that it paid a ransom to the attackers in order to obtain confirmation that the compromised unencrypted information has been destroyed.”

The Center assured those whose data was compromised that there was no evidence the data was misused, and that the payment of the ransom was in exchange for evidence that the unencrypted data had been destroyed.

“To date, there is no indication that any of the compromised unencrypted information is subject to further disclosure or misuse, and given the intent of the criminals to obtain the payment of the ransom, the Bush Center does not believe there is a high risk that the unencrypted information would be used for other purposes,” the statement continued.

The Bush Center said that their investigation suggests that there is no evidence that the data will be made publicly available, and that their quick action prevented further damage. Though many would ask how hackers were able to obtain the data in the first place and whether it’s really all that ethical to pay ransoms in the first place.

The official statement said that Blackbaud worked with independent forensic experts, as well as law enforcement, to prevent the hackers from stopping full system access and accessing the full encrypted files held by the Center. Ultimately, the criminals were “expelled” from the Blackbaud systems, but that before locking the hackers out, they were able to obtain a copy of some of the Center’s data relating to contacts and donors.

This data includes social security numbers of donors, but that this particular piece of information was encrypted and decryption keys would be necessary to access them.

There was no indication of how much the Center paid in ransom, but this certainly sets a precedent that hacking pays. Let’s just hope law enforcement finds those responsible.