Just a week after the ‘Triple Threat’ ransomware attack, the Lake City has paid 42 bitcoins worth roughly $480,000 to recover its encrypted systems.
What was affected in the attack?
The attack, which occurred on June 10, 2019, had crippled many systems such as emails and telephones. Many customer-serving departments were forced to operate manually. The only departments not affected in the attack were police and fire, as they operated on a different server.
What made the officials pay the ransom?
Initially, the city was working with its IT staff and another third-party vendor to recover the lost systems. However, despite these efforts, there were still many systems that were determined to unrecoverable.
"It would be to try to either to retrieve it through unlocking the information or recovering it some other way and neither of those options is very good or very easy and not very cost effective," said Mayor Stephen Witt, WCJB reported.
About a week after the attack, the city had received a ransom request from the attackers. The ransom detail was submitted to the City of Lake City’s insurance provider Florida League of Cities.
"About a week later after the attack occurred we did actually receive a ransom request. They were specifically requesting 42 bitcoins, which were the payment that they were requiring to release the decryption key to us," said Michael Lee, Lake City Police department spokesperson.
Paying the ransom
After weighing the positives and negatives, the city’s insurance provider had paid roughly $480,000 which is equivalent to 42 bitcoins on June 25, 2019. Soon after, the attackers provided the decryption key to retrieve the city’s files and data.
“Based on the advice of the vendors the purchase provided a mechanism to the City to retrieve the City’s files and data, which had been encrypted, and hopefully return the City’s IT system to being fully operational. If this process works it would save the City substantially in both time and money,” said Joe Helfenberger, Lake City Manager, First Coast News reported.
Fortunately, after the settlement, the City only remains liable for a total of $10,000 to be paid to the insurance provider.