Small Town Forks Over $500K Ransom

To hackers, following cyberattack: 'I would've never dreamed this could've happened,' mayor says
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2019 9:25 AM CDT
2nd Florida City in a Week Caves to Hackers
Lake City's City Hall is pictured in 2007.   (Wikimedia/Ebyabe)

A week after a Florida city caved to hackers demanding $600,000 to rid its computer system of a debilitating virus, another Florida city is following suit. Lake City, some 60 miles west of Jacksonville, will pay hackers 42 bitcoins, or around $500,000, following a cyberattack two weeks ago. "I would've never dreamed this could've happened, especially in a small town like this," Lake City Mayor Stephen Witt tells Action News Jax, noting the attack occurred as a City Hall employee opened an email. Though IT staff disconnected computers within minutes, employees were unable to access email accounts while Lake City's 12,000 residents were prevented from making municipal payments online, reports the BBC.

Witt says taxpayers will be on the hook for $10,000, with the city's insurer covering the remainder of the payment. "The insurance rate will probably go up for everybody," the mayor says, per Action News Jax, which notes it could still be weeks or months before systems are fully restored. The FBI doesn't advise ransomware targets pay hackers, noting there's no guarantee that the consequences of such attacks—known to hit cities, companies, and even hospitals—will be reversed. Still, city officials say the payment was the most efficient option they had. Per the BBC, global aluminum producer Norsk Hydro has incurred $57 million in expenses after choosing not to cave to hackers' demands, though that attack spanned 40 countries. (More ransomware stories.)

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