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Florida City hit with ransomware attack; decides to pay ransom to recover encrypted files

Florida City hit with ransomware attack; decides to pay ransom to recover encrypted files
  • The ransomware infection encrypted and locked all files and crippled the city’s services including email services, billing system, and water utility pump stations.
  • The city officials decided to pay the ransom amount in 65 bitcoins (USD 603,000) in order to recover the data.

The city council for Riviera Beach in Florida suffered a ransomware attack on May 29, 2019, after a police department employee opened a malicious email which dropped the ransomware on the city's network.

What is the impact?

  • The ransomware infection encrypted and locked all files in the city systems.
  • The attack crippled the city’s services including email services, billing system, and water utility pump stations.
  • The incident forced the city officials to shut down the majority of the systems.
  • However, telephone services and 911 services were operational.

The decision to pay ransom

In the meeting on June 3, the city officials decided to allocate $941,000 for purchasing 310 new desktops, 90 laptops, and other hardware in order to rebuild the city’s IT infrastructure.

In the first meeting, they did not plan to meet the attackers’ demand, however, they were not able to recover the city’s data as it was not backed up properly.

The city officials again held a meeting on June 17, and decided to pay the ransom amount in 65 bitcoins (~$603,000) in order to recover the data. The decision was made after the City Council board voted unanimously to authorize the city insurer to pay the attacker.

“In a meeting Monday night announced only days before, the board voted 5-0 to authorize the city insurer to pay 65 bitcoins, a hard-to-track cryptocurrency valued at approximately $592,000. An additional $25,000 would come out of the city budget, to cover its policy deductible. Without discussion on the merits, the board tackled the agenda item in two minutes, voted and moved on,” The Palm Beach Post reported.

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