At first, the problems with the Tewksbury Police Department system - difficulty calling up arrest and incident records - seemed to be just the usual system crankiness. No big deal.
But it persisted, and a technician was called in.
That was when the menacing message popped up on the screen, an explanation in the form of a ransom note:
"Your personal files are encrypted," it read. "File decryption costs ~ $500."
It continued: "If you really value your data, then we suggest you do not waste valuable time searching for other solutions because they do not exist."