According to CBS news, the Riviera Beach (Florida) City Council voted unanimously this week to pay 0,000 in ransom to hackers who took over its computer system. How did it happen? “The hackers apparently got into the city’s system when an employee clicked on an email link that allowed them to upload malware.” In other words, the hackers got in because the town let them in. In 2019, ignorance of technology is simply not a valid excuse for suffering such an attack. Even if you’re a small business owner, you have to make sure all of your employees are properly trained to avoid these kinds of mistakes. This may hurt your finances, but a ransomware attack will probably close your business. Which is worse? You may remember that the City of Baltimore recently fell victim to such an attack. The first question answered on the City’s FAQ explains why Riviera Beach made a mistake in giving into the hackers’ demand:
Question: Why don’t we just pay the ransom?
Answer: . . . [F]irst, we were advised by both the FBI and Secret Service not to pay the ransom. Second, that’s just not the way we operate. We won’t reward criminal behavior.
If we paid the ransom:
- There is no guarantee they can or will unlock our system
- There is no way of tracking the payment or even being able to confirm who we are paying the money to, because of the way they requested the payment
- There is no way of knowing if they are leaving other malware on our system to hold us for ransom again in the future
If you’re hit with a ransomware attack, the best course of action is to contact law enforcement (FBI and state) and follow their advice.
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Rob Bodine is a Virginia attorney focusing his practice on real estate and intellectual property law. He’s currently Virginia counsel with First Class Title, Inc., a Maryland title insurance and settlement company. Rob is also a licensed title insurance agent in Maryland and Virginia.