On the first Saturday in March, computer screens at the 911 dispatch center in this small town went dark. Staff at the county jail around the same time could no longer open cell doors remotely with electronic controls, and sheriff’s deputies lost the use of their laptops to look up license plates. Jackson County was under a ransomware attack.

“It really crippled us as far as just made it harder for our folks to work and do their jobs,” Sheriff Janis Mangum said.

Ransomware attacks have taken out computer systems at law enforcement agencies and local governments around the country in recent years, forcing them to revert to pen and paper for tasks typically done in an instant on computers.