The Florida city of Riviera Beach has agreed to pay cybercriminals who encrypted computer systems with ransomware $600,000 in order to regain access.
In a unanimous vote made by the Riviera Beach City Council this week, the city announced that after consulting with hired security experts, they determined the best course of action is to pay off the hackers. The council had already agreed to spend $900,000 on new computer systems after the attack hit nearly three weeks back, bringing the bill for the town of roughly 32,000 residents to $1.5 million.
The attack occurred after a city employee clicked a malicious link in a classic phishing email, allowing the unnamed ransomware variant to cripple email systems, force employees and suppliers to be paid by check, and interfering with the city's 911 dispatches.
This attack is just the latest in the string of ransomware attacks that have been hitting cities. The City of Atlanta was hit by a major ransomware attack last year that left residents unable to pay bills, costing the city last year $2.7 million to remediate the damage. The City of Del Rio was also hit by a ransomware attack this year that left them to go back to the days of pen and paper after city servers were rendered useless.
However, both of these cities refused to pay the ransom note after being discouraged by law enforcement. When a ransom note is paid, there are zero guarantees you will regain access to your systems and data, and now your organization becomes a prime target for cybercriminals because they know the note will be paid again in the future.
Attacks targetting businesses have seen a huge increase quarter on quarter in Q1, surging 195%, according to Malwarebytes, whereas attacks on consumers have dropped 10%. While the ransomware note victims have the option to pay or not, the cost for loss of business, time, wages, files, equipment, and remediation efforts far exceeds the ransom demand requested by a cybercriminal.
As the number of extortion attacks targetting organizations increases, it's important to have security controls in place to defends against a possible ransomware attack. NNT has developed a custom Ransomware Attack Remediation Kit to help your organization defend against ransomware attacks. Request to download your free mitigation kit today and receive a comprehensive set of system hardening templates that will guarantee all your systems retain the most appropriate checks designed to harden your IT environment and protect you from ransomware.