Florida government caves to ransomware hackers, setting dangerous precedent

As digital technology continues to gain ground in the United States, a new breed of cyber criminal is on the rise.

Thanks to the advent of “ransomware” computer viruses, clandestine hackers have been able to essentially take major computer systems hostage in some of the nation’s most sensitive arenas.  Hospitals, police stations, and governments have all fallen victim to such attacks in which these cyber nightmares disallow access to the victims’ computers, until such a time that a ransom is paid to the digital hijackers.

Obviously, negotiating or capitulating to these criminals is the easiest way to regain normalcy, but such actions also embolden the hackers.

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In the case of one Florida government, these anonymous ne’er do wells are making off with a small fortune.

A Florida city’s council voted to pay a ransom of $600,000 in Bitcoin to hackers that targeted its computer systems — and the payout is a sign of how unprepared much of the US is to deal with a coming wave of cyberattacks.

The city council of Riviera Beach, Florida, 50 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, voted on Monday to meet the demands of its hackers in hope of getting back the city’s compromised data, CBS News reported.

According to The Palm Beach Post, the attack began on May 29, when a employee from the police department opened an email attachment that contained malware.

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Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, is almost always the intended take for these cyber intruders thanks to the anonymity guaranteed by the digital financial system.

The payment could be viewed as a green light for similar hack attacks which, if aimed at the correct targets, could score a much larger payday in future instances.

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