Second Florida city pays giant ransom to ransomware gang in a week
Less than a week after a first Florida city agreed to pay a whopping $600,000 to get their data back from hackers, now, a second city’s administration has taken the same path.
On Monday, in an emergency meeting of the city council, the administration of Lake City, a small Florida city with a population of 65,000, voted to pay a ransom demand of 42 bitcoins, worth nearly $500,000.
City had been down for two weeks
The decision to pay the ransom demand was made after the city suffered a catastrophic malware infection earlier this month, on June 10, which the city described as a “triple threat.”
Despite the city’s IT staff disconnecting impacted systems within ten minutes of detecting the attack, a ransomware strain infected almost all its computer systems, with the exception of the police and fire departments, which ran on a separate network.
Lake City government work has been crippled for nearly two weeks because of the incident.
A ransom demand was made a week after the infection, with hackers reaching out to the city’s insurance provider — the League of Cities, which negotiated a ransom payment of 42 bitcoins last week.
The payment is estimated to have been worth between $480,000 to $500,000, depending on Bitcoin’s price at the time of the payment. The city’s IT staff is now working to recover their data after receiving a decryption key.
A wave of ransomware attacks targeting US cities
Lake City has now become the second Florida city to pay a gigantic ransomware demand to hackers. Riviera City officials agreed to pay a ransomware gang 65 bitcoins ($600,000) last week.
In March, earlier this year, officials in Jackson County, Georgia, also agreed to an astronomical ransomware demand, paying hackers $400,000 to regain access to their files.
A report by US cyber-security firm Recorded Future published in May highlighted a spike in ransomware attacks targeting US cities. Previous victims include Lynn, Massachusetts, Cartersville, Georgia, and Baltimore, Maryland, just to name a few.
The victim who paid the largest ransom demand ever is South Korean web hosting firm Internet Nayana, which paid 1.3 billion won ($1.14 million) worth of bitcoins to a hacker following a ransomware attack in June 2017.