City In Florida Pays Ransomware Scheme


In the face of many cyber breaches, some organizations decide that the costs aren’t worth dealing with and they decide to pay. This is what happened to Riveria, Florida after a mistake locked down their systems.

Like many ransomware schemes, this began with phishing. Hackers infiltrated the system and planted the virus into an innocent email. A city employee opened the infected email and the virus encrypted the entire city network. The system was under the hacker’s control for three weeks before the City council voted unanimously to pay the ransom on the advice of their paid security consultants. The city ended up paying $600,000 to the hackers. On top of this they spent over $1 million in new computer software and hardware plus the costs of hiring the consultants. [1]

Matt Culkin, Professional Liability Broker for PL Risk Advisors has seen many similar breaches affecting his clients. “In recent years we’ve seen a large increase in ransomware attacks as well as the actual amount that these hackers are demanding. A few years ago, these were a few hundred, maybe a few thousand dollars in bitcoins. Now, these brazen bad actors are asking for half a million, a million and up to decrypt the victim’s networks and the victims have no choice but to pay it! These increased ransomware attacks really highlight the importance of employee vigilance/cyber training, static backups of servers, having an incident response plan and a strong cyber liability policy with a reputable carrier that have access to the resources to assist when the inevitable does happen.”   

This breach shows three crucial things. First, paying off malicious actors is not the norm. The FBI and other policing agents have repeatedly said not to do this. Second, the amount demanded by criminals is increasing. Two years ago, there were ransoms of around 60,000 now the numbers are ten times that. Third, many people still don’t know how to handle suspicious emails or malware. Training is key, but if they keep messing up, the damages will get worse.



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