Florida city agrees to pay ransomware hackers $600,000 to unlock its data

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Florida city agrees to pay ransomware hackers $600,000 to unlock its data

Riviera Beach city commissioners unanimously voted at a special city council meeting Monday to pay 65 Bitcoins - which almost equates to the hefty sum - after the hackers requested to be paid in the cryptocurrency.

At a meeting Monday, the city council in Riviera Beach unanimously agreed to pay 65 Bitcoin to hackers who had paralyzed its computer system with a virus sent in an infected email attachment opened by a police department employee on May 29, the New York Times reports. Along with the encrypted records, the city had numerous problems including a disabled email system, employees and vendors being paid by check rather than direct deposit and 911 dispatchers being unable to enter calls into the computer.

The vote lasted only two minutes, local news outlet The Palm Beach Post reported. But the council of one Florida city has voted to hand over more than $600,000 in the hope of getting back data that has been encrypted for more than three weeks.

Spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown said Wednesday that the city of 35,000 residents -located just north of ritzy West Palm Beach - has been working with outside security consultants, who recommended the ransom be paid. The city did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday morning. In May, Baltimore said it would not pay hackers $76,000 after its systems were attacked.

The incident is the latest in thousands of attacks worldwide aimed at extorting money from governments and businesses. The city is still trying to recover, and this week Gov. Larry Hogan (R) appointed Maryland's first statewide chief information security officer to help guard against cyber threats. The US government indicted two Iranians a year ago for allegedly unleashing more than 200 ransomware attacks, including against the cities of Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey. Those hackers collected more than $6 million in ransom and caused $30 million in damage to computer systems, authorities say.

Riviera Beach have made a decision to pay the ransomware fee required by hackers in order to gain access to their computer systems, according to WPTV.

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