The Riviera Beach city council voted to let the city’s insurer pay 65 bitcoin to get access to city data and computer systems blocked by a cyber attack three weeks ago.
The difficult-to-trace digital currency’s value fluctuates, but 65 Bitcoin is worth roughly $600,000. Council members discussed the ransom at a special meeting held Monday night.
Parts of the city system remain inaccessible since the May 29th cyber attack, including the ability to pay for city services online. The city website is, however, up and running.
“We’ve lost some of the conveniences as far as online access, but we’ve pretty much been able to continue providing services,” said city spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown.
City employees have new email addresses – @RivieraBeach.org instead of the old @RivieraBCH.com, Brown said.
The city has replaced “a significant amount” of computers and hardware, she said.
Brown said the city hasn’t determined exactly where and how the attack occurred, but the Palm Beach Post reported that it started with someone in the police department opening an infected email.
The city retained its ability to process 911 calls after the attack, and Brown said most of the city’s phones have remained usable throughout the past three weeks.
In addition to the city’s IT staff and attorney working on the issue, Brown said they enlisted outside consultants to help deal with the security problem.
“It’s not the first time that it’s happened to a municipality,” she said.
The Riviera Beach city council will hold its regular meeting tonight at 6 p.m. The cyber attack and ransom are not on the agenda, though members of the public can speak at meetings and have previously brought up concerns while systems have been down.