Riviera Beach Got Hacked : Forced to Pay 600K in Bitcoin

Cyber-attacks are becoming ever more frequent, affecting local business, schools and even cities.

Most recently, it was reported that Riviera Beach had to pay 65 bitcoins, which is the equivalent of $600,000, to hackers after a government employee clicked on a malicious email link three weeks ago.

This was a classic case of ransomware. A hacker uses social engineering to attack unsuspecting people to click on a link or an email attachment. Once they click, malicious software encrypts files, making them inaccessible until the victim pays to get it encrypted, hence the name ransomware.

Ransomware, like in the case of Riviera Beach, is delivered through email via links, downloading attachments and in some cases social media messaging.

Many Nerds Support partners who receive suspicious emails, send them to our IT and Software experts to analyze and vet to determine whether the email is safe to open or not. This is just one way to prevent a situation like the one in Riviera Beach.

According to a report by The Council of Economic Advisers, malicious cyber activity cost the US economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016 and since then, cyber-attacks have become far more common.

Juniper Research, a cyber-security firm, projected cybercriminals will steal an estimated 33 billion records by 2023. Juniper expects more than half of all data breaches globally to occur in the US by 2023 as well.

The most important thing businesses can do is back-up their data regularly and consistently. Here at Nerds Support, we provide our partners with daily automated back-ups, for example, and filter out potential malicious websites and emails.

Also having cyber security measures in place to mitigate the risks is a big step. Training staff in yearly, quarterly, or semi annual trainings is an effective strategy.

Should your business suffer a ransomware attack, at the very least you’ll be able to access your important information, mitigating the impact of the attack.

As an organization, you can also employ anti-ransomware software to prevent ransomware from successfully launching. Nerds Support has IT engineers along with sophisticated security software, monitoring suspicious activity 24-7 and alert our partners of any potential threats including strange files, email links, or attachments.

 The DOJ reported an average of 4,000 ransomware attacks occurred per day in 2016 with over a billion dollars in ransoms paid. These numbers have increased since.

A Beazley Breach Response study revealed, about 70 percent of ransomware attacks in 2018 targeted small businesses with an average ransom demand of over $100,000, the highest demand topping at $8.5 million.

Ransomware is becoming increasingly lucrative because it offers cyber-criminals a low-risk, high reward method for monetizing malware.  The malicious software typically isn’t very complicated because most businesses are underprepared to deal with ransomware anyway, which appeals to even the most amateur cybercriminal.

In March, Albany New York, the state capital, admitted being hit with ransomware on a Saturday. There are minimal to no IT staff on Saturday’s.

Neither the private nor public sectors are adequately prepared to handle even the most primitive malware attack precisely because IT security has traditionally been a minimal concern, only now are we seeing the damaging consequences of underappreciating it.

Nerds Support is working hard to protect medium and small businesses from experiencing any cyber breach, including ransomware with its dedicated team of engineers and IT professionals.

Contact us today at 305-551-2009 and hacker proof your firm!