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Florida town victim to ransomware attack, pays $490,000 Bitcoin ransom

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Lake City, a small town in northern Florida, paid almost $500,000 in Bitcoin to hackers following a ransomware attack on the city’s computer systems. This is the second time in two weeks a Florida town has been a victim of a ransomware attack, bringing the total ransomware payment in the state to over $1 million.

Lake City falls victim to ransomware attack

A small town in Florida was forced to pay out almost half a million U.S. dollars to hackers following a ransomware attack.

Lake City, a small town in northern Florida with just over 12,000 people, saw its computer systems shut down after an employee infected machines across its network by opening an email. The triple threat ransomware attack knocked out the city’s email and made it impossible for people to pay their bills online, Jacksonville News reported.

According to a report from RT, the town’s insurer was contacted by the hackers and agreed to pay 42 Bitcoin, or around $490,000, two weeks after having their computers down. The city council reportedly approved the ransom payment despite being advised not to by the FBI.

League of Cities, Lake City’s insurance company, covered the majority of the ransom. The remaining $10,000 balance will be covered by Lake City’s taxpayers, local media reported. Stephen Witt, the town’s mayor, said that insurance rates will “probably go up for everybody” in the future.

Florida towns a popular target for Bitcoin ransomware

While the ransomware attack caught Lake City officials by surprise, it wasn’t the first time a Florida town fell victim to hackers. Just two weeks ago, Riviera Beach, another small town in Florida, paid nearly $600,000 in Bitcoin ransom to hackers.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the City Council approved its insurance carriers to pay 65 Bitcoins in order to regain access to the city’s computer system. The attack happened almost exactly like the Lake City one—an employee in the city’s police department had most likely opened an email affected with malware.

And despite the hefty amounts that were paid to hackers, both towns will suffer financial damage that goes beyond just ransom. Justin Williams, the interim information technology officer in Riviera Beach, told the New York Post that it will cost more than $1 million to completely fix and insure the systems that were affected by ransomware.

Earlier in May, the city of Baltimore fell victim to hackers demanding a Bitcoin ransom for the second time in just over a year. However, the city refused to pay the ransom and is working on regaining access to its computer systems. According to The Baltimore Sun, city officials said that they managed to restore access to the network for 65 percent of its employees.

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