ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) — The Village of Key Biscayne reported a data breach earlier this week, becoming the third Florida city to do so in the last few weeks.
The Village of Key Biscayne hacking comes a week after Riviera Beach in South Florida agreed to pay $600,000 in ransom to hackers last week.
In a separate incident, the city manager of Lake City says it paid about $460,000 in bitcoin Tuesday to recover data and computer operations, becoming the second Florida city to pay hackers. With a population of about 12,000 residents, Lake City is about 60 miles (97 miles) west of Jacksonville.
Joseph Helfenberg, city manager of Lake City, said paying the ransom was the cheapest option available since the city is paying a $10,000 deductible, and the rest is being covered by its insurer.
“We had a lot of attempts to recover the data that were unsuccessful,” Helfenberg said Wednesday.
Lake City was targeted by a malware attack known as “Triple Threat” on June 10, rendering many network systems and telephones inoperable. Public safety departments were largely spared, but the attack made email systems unusable and affected the city’s utilities, customer service, clerk’s office and administrative departments, said Helfenberg, who said investigators are in the process of determining how the attack happened.
In the Village of Key Biscayne, officials discovered a data security “event” on Monday, according to Andrea Agha, city manager of the town of about 3,000 residents.
“Key Biscayne is working with outside counsel and third-party forensic experts to ensure that its systems are secure, and to determine the scope of event,” Agha said in an email. She didn’t go into any further details.
In Riviera Beach, which has 35,000 residents, the hackers apparently got into the city’s system when an employee clicked on an email link that allowed them to upload malware.
The FBI in Miami refused to confirm or deny any investigation into hacking in the cities.
The three Florida cities are all very different.
Riviera Beach, in South Florida, is a predominantly African American city that is also home to Singer Island on the coast where many wealthy people live.
Lake City, west of Jacksonville in north Florida, is a relatively small city that once was known as Alligator and is perhaps best known as the confluence of Interstates 75 and 10.
Key Biscayne, off the tip of Miami-Dade County, is a wealthy island town where South American investors have bought up condominiums. It also is where President Richard Nixon famously kept a home near that of Charles “Bebe” Rebozo, who was later investigated for accepting a $100,000 contribution to Nixon’s campaign from billionaire Howard Hughes.
Michigan State criminal justice professor Tom Holy said the recent attacks underscore the need for governments and businesses to spend money on backup systems and security protocols.
“This ransomware threat is not going to go away anytime soon, and it will continue to evolve,” Holt said. “Basically, the threat is one that can be minimized through good security protocols.”
The mayor of Key Biscayne has called for a special council meeting to deal with the hacker issue.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)