Riviera Beach, FL Victim of Ransomware

Someone in the police department on May 29 opened an email that unleashed a virus that paralyzed the city’s computer system, sending all of the city’s operations offline. Everyone from the city council on down has been left without email. Paychecks that were supposed to be direct-deposited to employee bank accounts instead had to be hand-printed by Finance Department staffers working overtime.

The council held a special meeting Monday to authorize $941,000 for 310 new desktop and 90 laptop computers and other hardware. Much of the existing hardware was a half-dozen years old and vulnerable to another malware attack, so it was time to replace it anyway, Riviera Beach Councilwoman Julie Botel said.

In a meeting Monday night announced only days before, the board voted 5-0 to authorize the city insurer to pay 65 bitcoins, a hard-to-track cryptocurrency valued at approximately $592,000. An additional $25,000 would come out of the city budget, to cover its policy deductible. Without discussion on the merits, the board tackled the agenda item in two minutes, voted and moved on.