More than one US town has been badly hit by hackers recently – and it’s had expensive consequences.
It’s understood that ransomware attacks have seen two towns in the United States of America forced to pay out $1.1m to the culprits.
BBC News joins scores of media outlets in reporting that the latest victim appears to be Lake City, based in Florida. According to their report, around $500,000 was paid out to hackers.
This means that, in just the last two weeks alone, the total paid out by Florida municipalities because of ransomware exceeds a six-digit figure.
Town staff saw their email accounts locked and members of the public could not make payments to the authorities online.
Negotiators were swiftly brought in to discuss the ransom. In the end it seems they decided paying out would be the most efficient way of reclaiming their data.
What is ransomware?
Ok, so we expect most of our readers will know all about ransomware. However, if you’re coming across this for the first time, you need to know how dangerous this virus can be.
It’s a type of malware that, if it gets into your computer system, can block access to your files or publish them unless you pay a ransom.
In most cases, like the cases in America it would seem, ransomware often locks systems until the hackers are paid. It’s called ‘cryptoviral extortion’, as it encrypts the victim’s files. You will need a decryption key to unlock it, and that often comes at a heavy price.
Now a lot of people are caught-out by this type of cybercrime, including large businesses and, now, towns.
How have the towns reacted?
As you can imagine, a lot of valuable data will have been frozen by hackers. So, the two towns – Lake City and Riviera Beach – paid out, reports suggest.
Officials from the former actually voted to pay hackers after their computer systems were downed for a fortnight. BBC News reports that the hackers were paid in Bitcoin.
Before that Riviera Beach, a coastal suburb, saw a similar incident that locked staff out of important files. This authority ended up paying in the region of $600,000 to reclaim their data.
It just goes to show how devilish ransomware can be. It’s understood that staff computers in Lake City were disconnected within minutes of the attack beginning. Alas, it was to be too late.
I’m in this Beeb piece making the point organisations probably want to get decent, tested read only backups and DR that works. https://t.co/ecCjIBNLYD
— Kevin Beaumont 🌈 (@GossiTheDog) June 26, 2019
Cyber-criminals are increasingly using ransomware attacks. It was reported that one Alaskan community even reverted to paper last year, returning to typewriters after ransomware hit them.
Other towns in places like Ohio, California and North Carolina are also on the victim list, as well as three US hospitals.
So, this just proves how dangerous ransomware can be – and that anyone, even towns, can be caught out.
Stay tuned to the FileHippo News Blog too, where we will post warnings about the most current dangers out there.
Until next time, stay safe!