Samantha Lee/Business Insider
- A Florida city was hit by a ransomware attack that forced the city to use pen and paper instead of its computer systems to conduct its work.
- Lake City, Florida, paid the hackers the ransom that’s estimated at around $500,000. The ransom was paid in Bitcoin, so the exact amount is dependent on the price of Bitcoin at any given time.
- It’s unclear if the city’s main network was protected by sufficient layers of security.
- Several US cities have recently been hit by ransomware attacks, highlighting how US cities are poorly prepared against cyberattacks.
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Before it decided to pay the ransom, the city had to use its back-up systems to conduct its work, which included paper receipts and hand-written building permits.
"Utility payments can still be made in-person at City Hall, however credit card payments are currently not available," the city said in a press release on June 10, when the city said it was hit by the ransomware attack.
"While other City networks are currently disabled, Public Safety networks are isolated and protected by encryption," the city said in its press release.
It’s somewhat reassuring that Lake City’s public safety networks are encrypted, but it suggests that the city’s main governmental network was not protected, or it didn’t have the same layers of protection as its public safety network. The burning question is why the city’s main network was not protected by the same layers of security as its public safety network.
A spokesperson for Lake City spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
The cyberattack on Lake City is the second in Florida in just a few weeks, which further highlights how unprepared US cities are in dealing with cyberattacks.
Just last week, the city of Riviera Beach, also in Florida, was hit by a similar cyberattack. The city also paid a ransom to the hackers to the tune of $600,000. Both ransoms were paid in Bitcoin.
In March, the city of Atlanta, Georgia, was also hit by a ransomware attack that forced the city to shut down municipal courts and prevented residents from paying certain bills online.
Cyber security research firm Recorded Future published a review of ransomware attacks of state and local governments, where three US cities were affected by cyberattacks since April, including Lynn, Massachusetts; Cartersville, Georgia; and Baltimore, Maryland. The report said that Baltimore had been hit at least twice with ransomware attacks.
Recorded Future said in its report that ransomware attacks against state and local governments are "not going away anytime soon."
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