Ransomware hackers demand Bitcoins from Canadian Town
Midlands, a Canadian town has succumbed to the hackers and has decided to cough up the ransom being demanded in Bitcoins.
Located in Ontario Province, north of Toronto, Midlands is a quaint and quiet town with a population of just over 16,000. In the early hours of September 1, the town’s computer network was taken hostage by the ransomware hackers. The town’s computers were completely ineffective for more than 48 hours due to the cyber attack. Several daily services like correspondence of emails, processing of payments, permit issuances, transit cards reloading and the processing of marriage application had come to a standstill.
Administrative services were the only affected, emergency services like fire response and waste management were rendered safe. Ransom payments in the form of Bitcoins has been demanded by the hackers, in order to decrypt the ransomware.
The city officials did work with several cybersecurity experts to remedy the situation, they managed to restore several email accounts and bring back internet access to two buildings. Seeing no other viable option, the town has complied and is now in the process of disseminating an unspecified ransom in the digital currency so that decryption takes place.
A media release from the Midland Town Council stated, “Although not ideal, it is in our best interest to bring the system back online as quickly as possible. The Town had previously secured an insurance policy to cover such circumstances. Decryption efforts are underway.”
Midlands Not Alone
Midlands wasn’t the only victim of such an attack, the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA of America) was also hacked and the criminals asked for payment in Bitcoins once again. However, the latter’s response didn’t mimic the former. The PGA of America didn’t budge and refused to pay the ransom. Even though their hackers boasted that the decryption key lied with them and that “We exclusively have the decryption software for your situation. No decryption software is available in the public.”
The case of Midlands, acquiescing to the demands of their hackers is not a solitary one, many organizations have unfortunately fallen victim to this cyber-attack and the only way out seemed to be compliance with the demands. Sophos, a UK based cybersecurity firm, reported that the ransomware SamSam had procured more than $6 million through cyber crimes since the beginning of 2015, the highest ransom from an individual being $64,000.
Furthermore, the total payout to the various ransomware criminals over a period of 24 months was an astounding $25 million mostly cashed in BTC-e cryptocurrency exchange, as mentioned in a report by researchers from Google, Chainanalysis, University of California, San Diego and New York University.
Image via Shutterstock
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