Ransomware is a real threat in 2019, and in the past 2 weeks, Florida has succumbed twice and payed over $1,000,000 in bitcoin to re-enable their software services. The decision was taken by Lake City and Riveria Beach officials, who decided that the price demanded by the hackers was worth restoring the computer system, and worth regaining access to important files respectively. But is it worth the cost when considering the huge incentive this payout is dangling in front of potential hackers? People will do almost anything for half a million dollars, and these two incident no doubt have attracted the attention of potential black hat hackers around the world.
Of course, this is also a great opportunity for white hat hackers, as they now have a great threat to display to prospective clients.
In the latest cyber attack, government workers were locked out of email accounts, and members of the public were unable to make municipal payments online, causing a great deal of deadlock and infuriation. The actual ransom was payed out by the town's insurer, and so the local government did not feel the force of the money grab from this year's budget - with an excess of only $10,000.
Interestingly, the $500,000 dollars of ransom was payed with only 42 bitcoins, which demonstrates just how strongly the value of bitcoin has recovered since its crash. (We trust you can do the mental math!)
One week prior, an even larger ransom was payed by Riveria Beach at $600,000 - who also felt government workers being locked out of their emails - but also resulting in the downing of online emergency services.
Companies and governments have a decision to make - do we pay potentially exorbitant amounts of money on cyber-security to avoid future hacks - or do we pay criminals and reward them for their ingenuity when they do strike? One thing is for certain, there is a lot of money to be made by those with the skills and know-how of the cyber world.
Lock down those ports ladies and gentleman, and update those default passwords!
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