Ransomware continues to be a nightmare for individuals and businesses worldwide – but in the U.S., municipal government offices increasingly seem to be the target of choice for cybercriminals.

The city of Riviera Beach, Florida made news recently when it announced it was paying approximately $600,000 in ransom to undo a ransomware attack it suffered in late May. While not usually advised by law enforcement and security companies, city officials concluded that there was no other way to recover the files so the decision was made to pay the ransom.

Handing over 65 bitcoins doesn’t guarantee that their data will be restored, though. When Palm Springs in Palm Beach County was hit in 2018, officials paid an undisclosed ransom but still lost two years of data. In fact, less than half of those who pay a ransom ever regain access to their data.

In addition to the ransom paid, Riviera Beach also invested more than $900,000 into new hardware in the hopes that they do not have the same vulnerabilities as the old ones. That’s $1.5 million in damages from one attack.

Unfortunately, it sounds like city officials could have avoided making this payment and additional investment if they had followed some basic data protection strategies.

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