A Florida city agreed to pay $600,000 in ransom to hackers who took over its computer system. This incident is the latest in thousands of attacks worldwide aimed at extorting money from governments and businesses.
The Riviera Beach City Council voted unanimously this week to pay the hackers’ demands. The city believed the Palm Beach suburb had no choice if it wanted to retrieve its records – which the hackers encrypted. The council already voted to spend almost $1 million on new computers and hardware after hackers captured the city’s system three weeks ago.
An employee clicked on an email link that allowed them to upload malware. The city had numerous problems, including losing its email system and 911 dispatchers not being able to enter calls into the computer.
In another similar attack, it has been a month since the City of Baltimore’s networks were brought to a stand still by ransomware. The price tag so far is $18 million and recovery remains in its early stages. Many city business functions are restricted to paper-based workarounds. Originally, Baltimore’s ransom was $70,000 which now seems like the bargain of the century.
It would appear that Baltimore had for years failed to update its computer systems to defend against a known, critical vulnerability at the heart of their breach. Microsoft released a patch in 2017; the exploit works on machines running Windows software that’s two years out of date. The harsh truth: Baltimore should have been better prepared.