Bitcoin Soars, Cases Of BTC Ransom Demands Spike
Bitcoin is at an all year high after blasting past the $10,000 psychological level earlier today. Evidently, the current Bull Run has been accelerated by a wide range of factors, including institutional investors and interest spawned by Facebook’s Libra token.
The upcoming Bitcoin halving event in May 2020, is also spurring growth as the market prepares for a supply shock. However, the clamor for the digital asset is going overboard as crypto enthusiasts find new ways of getting their hands on the precious token.
It has been reported that a south Florida city is paying off a ransom of $600,000 in Bitcoin to gain access to data rendered inaccessible by a Ransomware attack. Apparently, the small town of Riviera Beach was hacked a few weeks ago, the attack crippling their computer system. The attack was triggered when a uniformed member of the police department opened a malware-loaded email.
The attack has left the city’s 35,000 residents with no access to their fire and police departments. The police department, for instance, has to manually write down at least 280 of the 911 calls they receive each day.
The city finances monitor is down too, as well as the utility pump stations and their testing systems. Also, there have been no phone services for the wider city council, which has halted the city worker’s payment system. Inconveniencing many, the workers checks now have to be delivered to the banks for payment settlements.
The city has however raised eyebrows by consenting to pay the hackers. Some crypto enthusiasts frowned at the Florida city’s agreement to pay off the hackers. They felt that the city was setting a terrible precedent for future attacks in other cities.
Pay in Bitcoin (BTC)
The Riviera Beach City Council took a vote on the matter and as per the 5-0 results, agreed to pay off the 65 BTC price as negotiated by the concerned issuance company. The hack has apparently cost the city at least $1 million spent upgrading, fixing, and insuring its computer networks.
Speaking on the attack, KaShamba Miller-Anderson the council chairwoman said:
“This whole thing is so new to me and so foreign, and it’s almost where I can’t even believe that this happens, but I’m learning that it’s not as uncommon as we would think it is.”
Similarly, the City of Baltimore has suffered the same fate but is still holding out against the attackers. Apparently, 13 BTC is all that stands against the city’s services and processes restoration after its computer networks were seized by hackers at the beginning of the month.
The standoff that began on May 7 kicked off with hackers accessing the city’s computer systems. They went to demand $100,000 worth of Bitcoin to cease the Ransomware attack. They, however, will not cede to these demands, and the price has been hefty.
For instance, the employees have no access to emails while the citizens cannot access essential services. This means that simple procedures such as paying property taxes, water bills, and parking tickets have reverted back to manual processes.
This is not Baltimore’s first Ransomware attack though. It went through a separate incident 15 months ago, when its 911 system was shut down for a day. Similar attacks are reported to have happened in Greenville, North Carolina, and 20 other U.S municipalities.
Ransomware hackers love Bitcoin due to its pseudo-anonymity in payments. All other methods of payment including cards and online banking are traceable, but with BTC, though there is public code, it does not hold any personally identifying information unless otherwise when they cash out. Additionally, Bitcoin’s prices are on the rise as institutions rekindle their interest.