Two cities in the state of Florida have recently fallen for ransomware attacks, and ended up paying the attackers large amounts of bitcoin for them to lift the siege and allow the cities to recover their systems.
According to local television station WCJB, officials in Riviera Beach authorized the city’s insurance carrier to pay roughly $600,000 worth of bitcoin to put an end to a ransomware siege, and proceeded to pay an additional $900,000 to buy new equipment after the attack.
Similarly, this week officials in Lake City voted to allow the city’s insurance carrier to pay hackers 42 bitcoins, currently worth around $467,400, to the attackers. These have since provided authorities with a decryption key that’s being used to restore the city’s systems.
The 42 BTC amount was reached after the insurance company negotiated with the hackers. Notably, law enforcement agencies like the FBI and security experts discourage the payment of ransoms in these cases, as they give the attackers a reason to keep going.
The attack on Lake City started on June 10, and was caused by a malware called “Triple Threat,” which infects the network and allowed the hackers to deploy a ransomware known as Ryuk. While the city’s fire and police departments weren’t affected, the city decided it would be less costly to pay up.
City Manager Joe Helfenberger was quoted as saying:
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.
As CryptoGlobe covered, ransomware attacks forced Baltimore to spend over $18 million to recover after they refused to pay the attackers, which demanded a 13 BTC ($143,000) ransom. The city’s real estate deals were halted because the attack crippled its systems, and the hackers ended up leaking documents to try and pressure officials.