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Pensacola City Hit by a Cyberattack After Deadly Shooting at Naval Air Station


The city of Pensacola, Florida was hit by a cyberattack that came in the wake of a deadly shooting at the naval air station wherein a Saudi flight student killed three sailors and wounded eight others.

As the trainee who pulled the shooting had ties to a foreign nation, the incident was labeled as a potential terrorist attack and has consequently incited international controversy. Officials suspect a link between both the incidents, however, no confirmatory lead has been gained onto the subject of the connection between the two events.

The city has been struggling with the cyberattack that began around 1:45 a.m on Saturday and took down the city's computer systems while keeping various city services at halt. Reportedly, the incident has incapacitated the city's online payment services, email services, phone lines, and 311 customer service. However, emergency support services such as fire and police remain unaffected during the incident, as per the officials.

Commenting on the matter, the city's spokeswoman, Kaycee Lagarde said, "I can confirm the city of Pensacola has experienced a cyberattack and we've disconnected much of our city's network until the issue can be resolved."

"As a precaution, we have reported the incident to the federal government," Lagarde added.

Officials have been investigating to determine the nature of the attack, whether it was a ransomware attack or not along with the details of any valuable information lost during the incident.

"The city of Pensacola is experiencing a cyber attack that began this weekend that is impacting our city network, including phones and email at City Hall and some of our other buildings," said Mayor Grover, C. Robinson.

"We're still trying to figure out what's happened, what's there and what there may be potential for."

"We don't know if they're connected or not,"

"We have discussed and we have talked with the FBI. It's my understanding that we sent stuff to them, and we're continuing to work. Our computer people worked through the weekend to see what was happening." He further told at his weekly press briefing.

This year witnessed an unusual rise in the number of cyberattacks on governments– local and state; US cities and towns have been particular targets for ransomware attacks in recent times. Reports state that most of these were co-ordinated chains of attacks aimed at breaching computer networks.

The latest statements on the issue suggest that the city is actively involved with the FBI in order to resolve the matter.

Florida city to pay $600,000 to a ransomware gang





The city council of  Riviera Beach, Florida, have voted unanimously to pay more than $600,000 in Bitcoins to a ransomware gang who had held its computer systems hostage for three weeks. 

The ransomware spread throughout the city’s computer network, after an employee clicked on a malicious link in an email. 

"Ransomware is commonly delivered through phishing emails or via 'drive-by downloads,'" according to Homeland Security. "Phishing emails often appear as though they have been sent from a legitimate organization or someone known to the victim and entice the user to click on a malicious link or open a malicious attachment."

The attack has locked all files and shut down all the city's services. Operations have been down ever since, with the exception of 911 services, which were able to continue to operate, although limited.

According to the Palm Beach Post’s report the ransomware affected the city’s email, 911 calls couldn't enter into computer records, and systems that controlled the water utility were offline.

The city council first decided to resolve the issue by paying $941,000 for new computers, but now they have decided to pay the ransom.

The amount of money would be paid from the city's insurer, although it's unclear wether hackers will decrypt the locked files afterward or not. 

The city council refused to comment.  



Hit by Ransomware Attack, US Town Agrees to pay Attackers $600,000 in Bitcoin



Riviera Beach, a small city which is located just north of West Palm Beach, fall prey to a massive cyber attack, wherein the hackers paralyzed the city's computer systems and have asked the city council to pay a $600,000 ransom in Bitcoin in order to have the data released.

With the hope of regaining the access to the encrypted data in the cyber attack, the officials of the Florida town conducted a meeting this week where the council agreed to pay the criminals 65 Bitcoin, a difficult to track currency.

Reportedly, it was after an employee of the town's police division accessed a phishing email, the virus which paralyzed all the computer systems in the city was unleashed.

To spread the word about the ransomware attack amongst the residents, a notice was posted on the city website which stated that they had undergone a data security event and was "working with our internal management team third-party consultants to address all issues."

Commenting on the matter, Mr. Rebholz, a principal for Moxfive, a technology advisory firm, said, “The complexity and severity of these ransomware attacks just continues to increase,”

“The sophistication of these threat actors is increasing faster than many organizations and cities are able to keep pace with.” He added.

A number of American cities have fallen prey to similar, computer-based breaches wherein the attackers demanded heavy ransoms for the restoration of the networks. Recently, Baltimore experienced a similar attack and though they refused to pay the ransom, the attack cost the city $18 million to fix damages.