Cybercriminals have learnt something very valuable in the last couple of weeks: in order to regain access to their data, cities in Florida are prepared to pay out huge Bitcoin ransoms to hackers.
Less than a week after the city of Riviera Beach, 80 miles from Miami, unanimously voted to pay US $600,000 worth of Bitcoins to an extortionist who had locked their IT systems with ransomware, a second city has come to the same decision.
The ransomware which hit Lake City is thought, like the Riviera Beach attack, to have entered IT systems after a user mistakenly clicked on a malicious link in their email.
The impact on city systems was severe, with Riviera Beach losing access to its email, IT systems knocked offline, and 911 emergency services said to be disrupted.
An emergency meeting of Lake City’s administrative council voted on Monday to agree to a cybercriminal’s demand for 42 Bitcoins (almost half a million dollars) after struggling for two weeks to combat a ransomware infection that crippled its municipal computer systems.
In a press release published on its website (which is hosted externally, and was not affected by the attack), Lake City described how some departments had resorted to using pen and paper due to city networks being disabled. Due to its inability to monitor emails, residents were instead told to monitor the Lake City Police Department’s Facebook page for any critical updates.
The small city in Northern Florida will pay US $460,000-worth of Bitcoin to hackers in order to regain control of its email systems and servers.
“I would have never dreamed this could have happened, especially in a small town like this,” said Lake City mayor Stephen Witt.
Fortunately for Lake City, and its taxpayers, insurance is expected to cover all of the payment apart (Read more...)
*** This is a Security Bloggers Network syndicated blog from The State of Security authored by Graham Cluley. Read the original post at: https://www.tripwire.com/state-of-security/featured/florida-pay-out-ransomware-gangs/