The leaders of Riviera Beach, a city in Florida have paid $592,000 in BTC to hackers. In so doing, the leaders hope the city will regain access to data that the hackers encrypted. A report unveiled this information on June 19.
Reportedly, the city suffered this attack on May 29. Per the report, an employee in the police department opened an infected email attachment. This resulted in a breakdown of the city’s online system. The attackers blocked access to records, which contained key data. As a result, the city was unable to accept utility payments. The residents had to make the payments either by regular mail or in person.
Per Rose Anne Brown, the city’s spokesperson, they had to spend $900,000 on new computer software after the attack. She added that the city had not planned to spend this amount until next year. Following the hack, the city council voted unanimously to pay 65 BTC to the attackers. However, there is no guarantee that the hackers will restore the system upon receiving the payment.
Michael van Zwieten, Florida League of Cities director of technology services noted,
All cities, whether large or small, are by nature very cost-conscious when it comes to budgeting for technology investments. The mid- to small-sized cities are especially strained when it comes to finding the necessary resources to keep their technology current. There are only a finite amount of dollars that can be divvied up within the city to fund the services its citizens are expecting.
Prior to the council meeting, the city’s IT staff had managed to restore its site. The team also created new email addresses for all employees.
Ransomware Attacks on Cities on the Rise
Riviera Beach is the most recent city to have its system paralyzed by a ransomware attack. According to a report, Baltimore suffered a similar problem on May 7 this year. Attackers took control of Baltimore government computers using ransomware named “RobbinHood”. As a result, the city’s utility system broke down.
They demanded $100,000 worth of BTC to get the system up and running once again. On top of this, they gave the city four days to pay up. Otherwise, they would increase the ransom.
Jack Young, the mayor of Baltimore replied that the city’s officials were, “well into the restorative process”. He added that they had also sought the help of cybersecurity experts who worked with them 24-7.
This news comes after Chainalysis conducted a webinar to unveil the cash-out methods of ransomware attacks. Reportedly, 64 percent of the attackers use crypto exchanges. 12 percent use mixing services and 6 percent uses P2P networks. Others use merchants or darknet marketplaces. According to the blockchain research firm, the remaining 9 percent of ransomware proceeds remain unused.
Do you think introducing crypto regulations can help curb ransomware attacks? Let us know in the comments below.