Lake City Employee Fired Following Ransom Payment

The Florida city approved its insurer to pay $460,000 in ransom for a cyberattack that shut down servers, email, and phone.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

July 2, 2019

1 Min Read

The director of information technology for Lake City, Fla., has been fired in the aftermath of a massive cyberattack that shut down its phones, servers, and email capabilities. Lake City recently agreed to pay 42 Bitcoin ($460,000) through its insurer, the Florida League of Cities.

About three weeks have passed since Lake City systems were hit with ransomware. Following the attack, city networks were taken offline and recovery efforts began with participation from a third-party security vendor, the Florida League of Cities, and Lake City's IT staff. Attempts to bring systems back online yielded no results; last week, the city's insurer received a ransom request for the decryption key.

The Florida League of Cities negotiated with attackers and paid the ransom, a decision approved by Lake City's Emergency Council. The city is responsible for the $10,000 deductible to the insurer. Lake City officials report its IT director and security vendor advised a more cost-approach to retrieve the key.

Lake City mayor Stephen Witt says city manager Joe Helfenberg made the decision to terminate an employee. Helfenberg is revamping its entire IT department to overcome the incident and set up a system to ensure it doesn't happen again. He also reports the decryption key has been working and the city has been consulting security experts to get back online within the coming days.

Read more details here.


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Dark Reading Staff

Dark Reading

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