It’s every employee’s worst nightmare: you’re sitting at your work computer, you accidentally press the wrong button and the whole company comes crashing all around you. One can never be too careful, right? Now, this may seem a bit extreme in most cases, but this is exactly what happened to one employee of the police department at Riviera Beach, Florida a few weeks ago. The said employee opened an email containing a virus which, staying true to its name, spread quickly throughout the system and resulted in a complete shutdown of the city’s computer operations.
Since the attack, the city has been forced back to the pre-Internet stage where everything from payroll checks to traffic violation tickets have to be prepared manually on paper. To return the city and its operations back to present day, the city council of Riviera Beach has finally decided to give in to the hacker’s demands and agreed to pay the demanded ransom.
The city council on Thursday voted unanimously to pay 65 bitcoin to the hackers, which translates to more than $600,000 in USD thanks to the recent bitcoin price hike. This amount will reportedly be paid by the city’s insurance company, with an additional amount paid by the city itself to cover its policy deductible. The dollar amount was not mentioned in the vote, with the 65 bitcoin the only currency referenced.
Digital operations necessary for the functioning of the city of nearly 35,000 people had been brought to a standstill in recent weeks, but there is still no guarantee that the city’s occupants will gain complete access to all the data that has been walled off due to the attack. In order to avoid such attacks in the future, the city council also voted to upgrade the city’s computer systems, which will reportedly cost the city in excess of $900,000. Not a small price to pay for one bad click, we suppose.
This incident also highlights the growing threat of ransomware attacks on similar, small municipalities where the cyber security isn’t otherworldly and which can be easy targets for hackers. Not that larger cities are completely safe from such attacks, as the cyber attack on Baltimore showed us earlier. Do you think there is a possibility of putting a stop to these attacks in the future? Let us know in the comments below!