Colorado City Pays $45,000 Ransom After Cyber-Attack
Lafayette, Colorado, officials announced Tuesday the city’s computer systems were hacked and they were forced to pay a ransom to regain access.
Lafayette officials said hackers disabled the city’s network services and blocked its access until the city paid a $45,000 fee, the Daily Camera reported.
The attack caused city emails, phones, online payments and reservation systems to temporarily shut down.
The city’s system servers and computers are still in the process of being cleaned and rebuilt. Once finished, the relevant data will be restored into the system and operations will resume. In the meantime, the city is using temporary phone numbers and emails.
“In a cost/benefit scenario of rebuilding the city’s data versus paying the ransom, the ransom option far outweighed attempting to build,” the city said in a statement. “The inconvenience of a lengthy service outage for residents was also taken into consideration.”
A preliminary investigation shows the ransomware entered the city’s network through a phishing scam or by guessing passwords.
Mayor Jamie Harkins said using taxpayer dollars to pay a ransom was not ideal.
“We attempted to pursue any possible avenue to avoid paying the ransom,” Harkins said. “Staff worked to determine the severity of the attack while analyzing data and backups to find alternative solutions.”
The city said personal credit card information was not compromised. There was no evidence that showed personal data was stolen, but the city asked its residents to monitor their accounts for suspicious activity.
City officials said they would be sending security-breach notifications to those who have personal information on the city’s network.
In response to the attack, City Administrator Fritz Sprague enacted a declaration of local disaster emergency that allows for outside assistance from the state, neighboring jurisdictions and private contractors.
The declaration will be in effect for seven days unless it is extended by the City Council. The council is set to consider the extension on Tuesday.
To combat future attacks, the city said it is installing crypto-safe backups, deploying additional cybersecurity systems and implementing regular vulnerability assessments.