Lake City hackers threaten the cybercriminal business model

Reporter: Rich Kolko
Published: Updated:

In a new twist, a Florida town did not get all of its files back after paying hackers hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransom money.

While Lake City paid the ransom money, the hackers did not put up their end of the deal. It was a rare move.

For cybercriminals, it is a business. They hold the files hostage and demand significant payments, usually in a cyber currency, such as bitcoin.

If the hackers do not do what they say, it is going to destroy their business model or criminal enterprise. There will be fighting among the hacker groups because of the recent incident.

Lake City is not alone. Atlanta, Baltimore and Riviera Beach are a few of the thousands of ransomware attacks. They usually start when someone opens up an email with malware, giving hackers access to the system. These attacks have generated billions in profits.

Taking something from an entity and demanding ransom money is not new. A former FBI negotiator said prevention is the best strategy to deter cybercrimes.

“You can’t guarantee when dealing with these people, that one, you are going to get the files back,” said Jim Derrane, a retired FBI Negotiator. “Its never a great idea unless there is no other option but to negotiate with these kidnappers.”

The problems are not over for Lake City. Its information technology chief lost his job and many services and files are still locked. The hackers likely moved on, leaving the city stuck without its data.

To avoid becoming the next victim, cities can back up their data, pay for security and training, along with taking the FBI’s advice of not paying the ransom.

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