LAKE CITY, Fla. — Lake City continues to recover from the cyber malware attack that rendered many of the city's communication systems inoperable back on June 10. On Tuesday, the city paid the cyber attacker over $480,000 to recover encrypted operating systems.
Initially, the city was working with its IT staff and another third-party vendor to recover the lost systems, avoiding having to pay a ransom to the attacker. While these efforts were initially successful, many systems were determined to be unrecoverable, the city said.
Last week, the city says they received a ransom request from the attacker. The ransom was submitted to the City of Lake City's insurance provider Florida League of Cities. After weighing the positives and negatives, the city's insurance began negotiating with the attacker, resulting in an agreement to pay 42 bitcoins--roughly $480,000.
The ransom was paid June 25, 15 days after the attack, and the attacker provided the city with a mechanism to retrieve the city's files and data.
“Based on the advice of the vendors the purchase provided a mechanism to the City to retrieve the City’s files and data, which had been encrypted, and hopefully return the City’s IT system to being fully operational,” City Manager Joe Helfenberger said. “If this process works it would save the City substantially in both time and money.”
The city's in-house investigation revealed that paying the $10,000 deductible to the city's insurance company was going to be a lot cheaper than continuing recovery efforts with their IT department and the third party company.
The city says it's not clear how long it will be before all systems are fully functional, but they do expect a full recovery.