City Of Valdez Officials Regain Control Of Its Website After Paying Bitcoin Ransom
The City Of Valdez Regains Control Of Its Servers After Paying Ransom In Bitcoin
After four months under captivity, information held on the servers belonging to the City of Valdez has been retrieved. This, however, has come after the city officials paid the ransom in Bitcoin.
Earlier this year, Valdez, a city located in Alaska, had its servers attacked by a virus known as Hermes. To relinquish control over the computers, the cybercriminals demanded ransom worth 4 BTC (approximately $26,000 back then).
The city officials first sought assistance from the local police as well as their insurance provider. Later, they enlisted the services of unidentified cybersecurity and forensics firm operation out of Virginia. Remarkably, the security company established a link with the hackers without revealing the identity of their client, the city of Valdez.
Apparently, the hackers demanded a relatively low ransom because they were unaware of the stature of the company they had attacked. Nevertheless, the local head of police imposed stringent requirements on the attackers before agreeing on the means of payment. The city officials sent encrypted data to the attackers, which as expected, they decrypted within a short time. This was enough to convince the officials to send the payment, after which the hackers responded with a decryption key for unlocking the servers.
Although the keys worked, the servers are yet to go online. Valdez city officials are understandably scanning the information for viruses and afterwards migrating it into new servers with better security mechanisms. These measures are aimed at preventing the recurrence of such an ordeal.
The Valdez hacking incident was not the first of its kind to affect an Alaskan town. Interestingly, Matanuska-Susitna servers were attacked by a similar malware on the same date as Valdez.
The Matanuska-Susitna attack resulted in the closure of the town's IT systems. According to the manager of the region, John Moosey, he refused to pay the ransom which was set at $400,000 worth of Bitcoin. The decision to decline to pay the ransom was arrived at after officials resolved that it was unfeasible to use tax money to finance criminals.