Florida city pays $600,000 to ransomware gang to have its data back

Riviera City officials previously agreed to pay $941,000 to rebuild their entire computer network.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor
Money dollars

The city council for Riviera Beach, Florida, voted this week to pay more than $600,000 to a ransomware gang so city officials could recover data that has been locked and encrypted more than three weeks ago.

The city's decision, as reported by CBS News, came after officials came to the conclusion that there was no other way to recover the city's files.

City will also pay $941,000 for new computers

Access to Riviera City data has been locked since May 29, this year, when a Riviera Beach police department employee opened an email and unleashed ransomware on the city's network.

The ransomware locked files and shut down all the city's services. Operations have been down ever since, with the exception of 911 services, which were able to continue to operate, although limited.

The city's website, email server, billing system, and everything else has been down ever since, with all city communications being done in person, over the telephone, or via posters.

The city has been having a hard time recovering from the incident ever since.

City officials held a first meeting on June 3 when they authorized $941,000 for 310 new desktop and 90 laptop computers and other hardware so that the city could rebuild its IT infrastructure following the incident.

City to pay 65 bitcoin ransom demand

Initially, the city didn't plan on paying criminals, but it became apparent in recent weeks that they wouldn't be able to regain access to all their past data, which hadn't been properly backed up.

On Monday this week, city officials met again, and with a unanimous vote of 5-0, they gave the go-ahead to the city's insurer to pay 65 bitcoins (~$603,000) to the crooks holding their network for ransom.

The vote lasted only two minutes, local news outlet The Palm Beach Post reported.

The city of Riviera Beach is a suburb north of Palm Beach, Florida. Last year, another Palm Beach suburb -- Palm Springs -- also paid a ransomware demand, but lost two years of data, nevertheless.

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.

However, Riviera City won't be the victim who paid the largest ever ransom demand, though. This "honor" goes to 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.

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