Threat of ransomware in cities across Florida

This has taken the government of Florida by storm! It started in Riviera Beach when an employee in the 35,000-resident city’s police department opened an email containing a piece of malware.  No precautions were taken before opening the mail and this virus quickly spread throughout the municipal government. The impacts were disabling the city’s official website; municipal employees’ emails, voice-over-internet-protocol phones, and the local water utility’s ability accept or receive online payments. Besides, no data collected by the city’s 911 dispatch center regarding caller information could be made on the system. All of it had to be made on paper thus leading to several incidents of disarray and chaos.

The city council in Riveria Beach had no option but to pay the whopping amount of nearly $600,000 demanded by hackers as the entire city’s systems were halted.  In exchange, Riviera Beach received a decryption key to restore its networks and devices. Officials investigating the attack, which include those from the FBI, U.S. Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security have not identified the type of malware that disabled Riviera Beach’s systems. But that’s not all! It followed a similar cyber attacks on Lake City and Baltimore. Baltimore refused to pay a ransom to its attackers, but it will cost more than $18 million to rebuild Baltimore’s systems.

This is similar to an attack in March in Jackson County in which a ransomware strain named as Ryuk was used.

Such attacks on government agencies are not new. These hackers use ransomware which is a type of malware designed to demand money or anything else in return by blocking systems or making changes to a victim’s computer. These attacks have increased in recent years and SGS Technologie highly recommends upgrading systems to the latest technology as well as receiving the assistance of an experienced cyber-security company to continuously maintain guard.