SANTA ROSA BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — The South Walton Fire District is dealing with a ransomware incident that happened back in May.

During the cyber attack, someone hacked their computer network and then attempted to blackmail the agency.

They are taking extra precautions to hopefully protect their patient’s information.

On Memorial Day, SWFD learned that someone had temporarily gained access to their dispatch system, encrypted the data, and left a ransom note.

“Fortunately, internally, we have a pretty robust mechanism in place to do backups,” SWFD Fire Chief Administrator Ryan Crawford said. “And so we never had to engage that threat actor to gain access to that data. We were able to reinstall that data and be back up and running in about a day and a half.”

Now they are notifying patients from 2007 to 2019 that it is possible their confidential patient information has been leaked.

Information like social security numbers, addresses, insurance information, and treatment dates.

“We have no evidence at this point where information was taken from the system or extracted but we can’t say with 100 percent certainty that that’s not the case,” Crawford said. “So far today, we’ve not found any evidence of that to happen.”

Crawford said they are providing resources to those who are potentially impacted.

“They will receive notification from us directly and they’ll give them step-by-step what they can do in order to protect themselves,” Crawford said. “We’ll be offering some credit monitoring services and identity theft services to that. That subpopulation, if you will. We’ve contracted with a firm to kind of help us navigate that and to notify all those folks directly via mail out so that’ll be that’s actually going out today and they’ll be notified directly.”

He said since the incident, they have added additional layers of protection to their system.

“One of the easiest ways is to take those archived medical records completely offline,” Crawford said. “And so now, you know, those are really accessible to us for when people do public records requests and those sorts of things, it now requires us to go into the room where that server is located to pull that information rather than doing that remote.”

SWFD has established a toll-free call center to answer questions about the incident and to address related concerns. Call center representatives are available at 1-800-939-4170 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Central Time.