Published: Sun, June 23, 2019
Tech | By Constance Martin

Florida city votes to pay ransom after cyberattack

Florida city votes to pay ransom after cyberattack

Aside from locking down the files, the attack took down the city email network, forced Riviera Beach to pay employees and contractors by check instead of direct deposit and made it so 911 dispatchers couldn't enter calls into their systems. - Rivera Beach City agreed to pay $600,000 in Bitcoin to hackers who took over its computer system.

He said in nearly all cases, the attackers decrypt the computers after payment, allowing the victims to retrieve their data. The same cost-consciousness that prompts local governments to use outmoded computer systems may also lead them to conclude paying the ransom is preferable to incurring millions of dollars in costs.

The incident is just the latest in a long line of successful ransomware attacks targeting U.S. cities.

The Riviera Beach virus is said to have been unleashed when someone in the police department opened a tainted email on May 29.

The cyber attackers have demanded payment in the cryptocurrency bitcoin, which is hard to track.

Liska said the extent of the ransomware attack likely left the city facing steep expenses and a pressure to satisfy the hackers' demands in order to get government services working again.

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Officials investigating the attack, which include those from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security, have not identified the type of malware that disabled Riviera Beach's systems.

In May, threat-intelligence firm Recorded Future published a study that found an increase in ransomware attacks against local governments, with 53 incidents in 2018 and over 20 attacks so far this year (see: Ransomware Increasingly Hits State and Local Governments). The city's information technology specialists reported substantial progress in restoring websites and email accounts by the end of April. By making the payment, the city council hopes to regain access to data encrypted in the cyber attack three weeks ago, although there is no guarantee the hackers will release the data once payment is received.

The leaders of Riviera Beach, Florida, looking tired, met quietly this week for an extraordinary vote to pay almost $600,000 in ransom to hackers who paralysed the city's computer systems.

And research published in February by McAfee and Coveware reported that Ryuk often asks for much more money than other ransomware attacks.

Hackers had demanded Baltimore pay a $76,000 ransom, but the city refused.

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