Florida city Riviera Beach is making headlines this week after the city agreed to pay hackers a $600,000 ransom to free their computer system. The attack is one of the thousands that are occurring worldwide where hackers hold computer systems, sometimes of an entire city, government or business, for ransom.
“From tax records to client information, your data is essential in running your business. When it’s lost because of an unanticipated natural disaster or even worse, it is stolen, you need to make sure you can recover that data so your business can continue to thrive and grow without losing clients,” explains Toronto managed IT services.
The city’s system was taken over three weeks ago, and the City Council voted unanimously to pay hackers to free their records. Hackers encrypted all of the system’s records so that officials have no means of retrieving their data.
Hackers took over the system by a user error, which involved one of the employees clicking on a link that downloaded malware to the computer system. The computer system had all of its email system disabled and direct deposits were also blocked. Employees and vendors had to be paid by checks.
The hackers also took over the 911 dispatch portion of the system, which allows dispatch to enter calls into the system. Officials claim that the computer system being held for ransom did not impact emergency personnel response time.
The city has also voted to spend nearly $1 million to purchase new hardware and computers that will strengthen the city’s network. The city was working with outside security consultants that recommended that the city pay the ransom. Officials claim that there is a risk that the hackers will take the city’s money and not release the records.
FBI’s officials recommend not paying ransom to hackers, but many governments have chosen to pay instead of having their systems come to a crawl. Hackers demanded that the payment be sent via Bitcoin so that the identity of the hackers remains hidden.
Baltimore suffered from a ransom attack last month in which hackers tried to extort the city out of $76,000. The city declined to pay the ransom. Two Iranian men were arrested and charged last year with causing over 200 ransomware attacks.
The duo allegedly caused $30 million in damages and received over $6 million in ransom payments prior to being caught. Victims paid out $3.6 million to hackers spread over 1,493 ransomware attacks last year.
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