Lake City, Florida Fires IT Director After Paying $500,000 Bitcoin Ransom Attack Demands
Despite the benefits of blockchain and cryptocurrency, there are several downsides that the industry is constantly having to combat and one of these is the use of blockchain and crypto for the facilitation of criminal activity and especially blackmail. This is because several cryptos are untraceable and as such, they have become a tool of choice for those who wish to extort money from others as they are less likely to be caught should they take the amount of money in cryptocurrency, especially if it is a privacy coin such as monero.
Unfortunately, Lake City, a city in Florida learned this the hard way that was forced to pay $500,000 in Bitcoin last week after being blackmailed by a criminal. Following the payment of the ransom, the IT director has been relieved of his position and in an interview with a local television station, the city manager of Lake City Joe Helfenberg confirmed that the dismissal had taken place.
This comes a week after Lake City give approval to their insurance company to pay out 42 bitcoin ransom with the city paying $10,000 in excess using taxpayer funds to pay off the blackmailers. From reports and the statement of the mayor, the decision taken by Helfenberger was to revamp the IT department to prevent such an incident from occurring again and this involved in the firing of the IT director. Now that this has taken place, the IT Department is working to decrypt the city system and have said that the computer systems for the city will be back online in the next two weeks.
The reason they were forced to pay such large amount in ransom was that hackers had gained control of the computer systems and had stated that they would not be given access to the systems again unless they paid $500,000 dollars in ransom money paid in Bitcoin and the City at the time said that paying the hackers was the only way to ensure that they got their computer systems back.
The need for the ransom to be paid in crypto was to avoid detection by the authorities and this is not the first time it has happened at Baltimore city was hit by a ransomware attack earlier this year and has demanded payment in Bitcoin. After the city did not t pay the hackers, they leaked sensitive documents onto the internet. Another city in Florida paid $600,000 in Bitcoin ransomware to scammers this year and this it seems to be a growing trend within the country.
This has gotten local governments to look into tighter security for their computer systems to avoid falling victim to such an attack and also sparked a conversation around the possibilities of crypto security has been seen in the past and which is being conducted within the industry itself. For example, stolen funds from another exchange were found on Binance earlier this year and they were frozen by the exchange before they could be sold and moved. As the world is moving more towards the digital currencies and away from fiat there will be certain issues that need to be tackled for the safety of others.