Security News

US City Pays Hackers $600,000 to Free Data

Officials in the US city of Riviera Beach have done what many security experts say you shouldn't do. They have agreed to pay hackers the ransom they have demanded, after paralysing the city's computer network.

Riviera Beach (pop. 35,000), Florida, became the latest US city to by hit by a cyber attack (Baltimore and Atlanta were attacked earlier this year). This time, the hackers demanded 65 Bitcoin - around $600,000 - to release data that was encrypted on May 29, after a police department employee opened a malicious email attachment.

Once opened, the ransomware shut down the city's online systems, including those that process utility payments (now have to be made in person or by 'regular' mail, using cash or cheque) and operate water utility pump stations and testing systems. Even 911 dispatchers have to record call information by hand.

"Anything that was done online, we did not have access to," city spokeswoman, Rose Anne Brown, told the New York Times. "(However) We are well on our way to restoring the city system. And the city is working with law enforcement."

The city was due to spend $900,000 on new computer hardware next year. Officials voted on June 4 to bring that forward.

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