If you think that is an overstatement, ask the city of Riviera Beach, Florida.
The city council of Riviera Beach, Florida, unanimously voted to pay $600,000 in Bitcoin to a group of hackers who took control of their computer systems. Additionally, the council voted to spend nearly $1 million on new computer equipment because of this attack.
Hackers gained access to the city’s computer system when an employee clicked on an email link, allowing the ransomware to be uploaded to the user’s computer. This spread quickly and soon the ransomware started encrypting the city’s data. It also took down email and 911 dispatching systems. Once data is encrypted, especially by people who know what they are doing, it is nearly impossible to recover it without the key.
Riviera Beach isn’t alone.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says that ransomware is the fast growing malware threat we have. Atlanta, GA, Sarasota, FL, and Newark, NJ are just a few other cities that have been attacked using ransomware. Hackers are costing individuals and city governments millions with these attacks.
The City of Baltimore is also feeling the hurt. On May 7th they realized that they were the latest victim of a ransomware attack by malware called “RobbinHood”. The hackers were asking for $76,000 before they would return access to the city's data. Baltimore refused and is now estimating that it will cost about $18 million to recover.
"Mike Christman: I'm aware of one ransomware variant that affected all 50 states that had some $30 million in losses, and over $6 million in ransom payments. I would tell you that the losses are very significant, and easily approach a hundred million dollars or more just in the United States."
In most of these situations, it is best to PAY the ransom and hope to get your systems back online. Then you can begin to upgrade your systems and more importantly, educate your workforce to put your company in a more strategic position to prevent malware attacks.
Ask us how Gray Leaf can help protect your organization and your employees from this and other types of threats.