Hackers hit the city of Riviera Beach two weeks ago when a member of the police department opened up an email that contained the malware. City officials believe it's the only way to regain control of its systems and records, which the hackers encrypted.
This ransom payment comes weeks after the city agreed to spend nearly $1 million to fix and replace compromised computer equipment.
City governments that don't pay after ransomware attacks can end up with costs higher than what the hackers initially demanded. At the Monday council meeting, Justin Williams, the city's interim IT manager, noted the city's websites and email had been restored along with the financial systems and software, but several other systems were not yet restored, including back-up systems. The development of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which are hard to trace, has made it more difficult for authorities to be able to investigate and track the hackers.
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Spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown said Wednesday that the city of 35,000 residents has been working with outside security consultants, who recommended the ransom be paid.
"Paying the ransom does not mean there aren't millions of dollars in recovery costs as IT and security teams still have to work to restore services and put in protections to ensure the attack is not repeated, as happened to the Colorado Department of Transportation in 2017", Liska says.
"This attack has all of the hallmarks of recent ransomware attacks against state and local governments", Liska said.
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While ransomware attacks do often result in payment and then the return of file access, some hackers choose to go an even darker route and refuse to unlock the encrypted files after being paid.
Hackers who took over Baltimore's computer systems in a May 7 assault have demanded $76,000 in bitcoin ransom, the Baltimore Sun reported.
The 65 Bitcoins, which equals $600,000, will come from the city's insurance, officials said. The city refused to pay, and that cost it an estimated $17 million in damages.
And research published in February by McAfee and Coveware reported that Ryuk often asks for much more money than other ransomware attacks.
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