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Second Florida City Hit by Ransomware Opts to Pay

Another Florida city has decided to pay a ransom to the hackers who took control over its municipal computer systems. On June 25, the mayor of Lake City said the northern Florida city would pay hackers $460,000 to regain control of its email and other servers that were seized two weeks ago, according to CBS 47 Action News Jax.

With the exception of the police and fire departments, the attack has left almost all of the city’s computer systems encrypted since the June 10 attack, and Lake City and Riviera Beach are only the latest in a growing list of municipalities that have fallen victim to ransomware.

A recently published Mimecast report, The State of Email Security, found that nearly half (42%) of organizations in the public sector say ransomware has impacted their business operations in the last 12 months, and 73% in the public sector have experienced two to five days of downtime as a result.

“The obvious negative to ransom payment is that it makes ransomware even more lucrative and routine. Repeated high-profile successes incentivize criminals to continue using the tactic and open the field to newcomers. Making matters worse, it is relatively rare for the international sources of these crimes to be caught – investigation and international cooperation is costly, and many cases fall under thresholds that would make them worthwhile to pursue,” said Lesley Carhart, principal threat analyst, threat operations center at Dragos

“Ransom payment, while potentially immediately cheaper than proper disaster recovery planning, is leading us to an ugly Wild West, where paying the highwaymen is a mandatory part of yearly budgets and insurance policies. This is very unfortunate for the victims who can’t afford to pay.”

If paying the ransom becomes a trend, it would likely spur more targeted, well-planned attacks on cities or other defenseless victims, said Ilia Kolochenko, founder and CEO ImmuniWeb.

“With such lucrative and easy stakes on the table, cyber-criminals will now willingly invest to prepare sophisticated, hardly detectable and well-targeted campaigns. Worse, such cybercrimes are often not able to be investigated due to technical issues and payments in cryptocurrency. It’s a paradise for black hats.”

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