US City Riviera Beach Paid $600,000 in Bitcoin to Cyber Criminals

Yolanda Curtis
June 28, 2019

The total paid by Florida municipalities over ransomware in the last two weeks now stands at $1.1m.

After this ransomware attack, the Lake City has had to use the hand-written bills along with paper receipts for most of their payment services. The attacks have become ever more frequent, and these ransomware incidents do not have a pattern that might allow towns to protect themselves. Baltimore city officials declined to pay a $76,000 demand in May.

Lake City was targeted by a malware attack known as "Triple Threat" on June 10, rendering many network systems and telephones inoperable. The effects were serious and was said to have affected real estate businesses in the city because they were unable to process payments.

Lake City police said the city paid a $10,000 deductible to its insurance company, which will cover the rest of the ransom.

Why hackers would find the data stored by Lake City, population 12,046, interesting is the missing piece in this story. By combining Emotet and TrickBot, the attackers have many different choices in infecting a network. Atlanta was hit a year ago.

It was not immediately clear if there was any connection between the attacks.

Despite the Federal Bureau of Investigation telling Action Jax News that they don't encourage ransom to be paid to cyber criminals, the mayor of the town says that it was in the interest of the citizens to pay the fee of nearly half a million dollars to the hackers to gain back control of their online systems.

In November, the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicted two Iranian men in a computer hacking and extortion scheme that targeted cities like Atlanta and Newark, N.J., in addition to the Port of San Diego, the Colorado Department of Transportation and six health care-related organizations.

Brian Hawkins, the Information Technology Director of the City, said that even though the systems were shut down, but no evidence is there to indicate that any sensitive data is getting misused or compromised. However, the cost of recovering from an attack like this could be many times the amount of the ransom. While paying is sometimes easier in such cases, Kujawa suggests that local communities need to consider all options before negotiating with cybercriminals. The officials agreed to pay the $500,000 because it was the only way to regain their computer data. "This is why accepting the ransom at face value is something the victim should only consider after they have done an inventory of the damage done and finding out if the attacker will negotiate for a lower ransom".

Other reports by iNewsToday