Florida city to pay $600G in ransom to hackers in effort to save records

A Florida city council voted to pay hackers almost $600,000 in ransom after they took over its computer system weeks ago.

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

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The council had already voted to spend close to $1 million on new computers and hardware after the hack and said they felt they had no choice but to pay the ransom if they wanted to get their records, which the hackers encrypted.

Since the hack, the city has been working with outside security consultants, who suggested Riviera Beach pay the ransom.

Investigators believe the attack began when someone in the police department clicked an email link on May 29 that allowed the hackers to upload malware, The Palm Beach Post reported.

A spokesperson conceded there are no guarantees that once the hackers received the money they will release the records. The payment is being covered by insurance.

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The FBI on its website says it “doesn’t support” paying off hackers, but Riviera Beach isn’t alone: many government agencies and businesses do. Numerous governments and businesses have been hit in the United States and worldwide in recent years.

Baltimore refused to pay hackers $76,000 after an attack last month. The U.S. government indicted two Iranians last year for allegedly unleashing more than 200 ransomware attacks, including against the cities of Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey. The men, who have not been arrested, received more than $6 million in payments and caused $30 million in damage to computer systems, federal prosecutors have said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.