Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America

Ransomware Attacks Are Testing Resolve of Cities Across America

This has been the summer of crippling ransomware attacks. More than 40 municipalities have been the victims of cyberattacks this year, from major cities such as Baltimore, Albany and Laredo, Tex., to smaller towns including Lake City, Fla.

Key findings

Two years ago such attacks were still relatively rare. But now they are far more targeted, and as companies and towns have shown an increased willingness to pay ransoms, criminals have turned to new and more powerful forms of encryption and more ingenious ways of injecting the code into computer networks. Only this summer did the United States begin to see multiple simultaneous attacks, often directed at government websites that are ill-defended.

Fearing the worst, cities like Lake City, Fla., have bought cyberinsurance, and an insurer paid most of its ransom this summer. But some experts think that is only worsening the problem. Kimberly Goody, a manager of financial crimes analysis for FireEye, a major cybersecurity firm, said she expected in the future to 'see some evidence that there is specific targeting of organizations that have insurance.'

According to government and private experts, the ransomware business is now proving so lucrative that the hackers are pouring some of their profits back into their own research and development, making their attacks more precise, and more wily.

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