Hackers reportedly seized a database from the City of Detroit, demanding 2000 BTC (worth at the time approximately $803,000) for its release.
The incident took place in April but only came to light in recent days. Mayor Mike Duggan made the revelation at the North American International Cyber Summit, which brings together cybersecurity experts to discuss the latest issues.
The city refused to give in to the hackers’ demands, mainly because the database was outdated and no longer needed- perhaps the grand irony, seeing that poor maintenance may have allowed for the attack in the first place. Duggan said the incident was a wakeup call to store critical information more securely and to upgrade its aging infrastructure:
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“It was pretty disturbing what I found. I found the Microsoft Office system we had was about 10 years old and couldn’t sync the calendar to my phone.”
The Michigan state government is reportedly hit with 500,000 attack attempts each day.
Bitcoin is an ideal currency for extortionists looking to cover their tracks, their latest targets being government agencies. Several days ago, a Tennessee Sheriff’s Office had no choice but to pay a $500 bitcoin ransom to release critical files.
For Detroit, the incident is the latest in a tale of misery and mismanagement. The city has lost half its population since 1950, its former mayor is in jail and it has filed the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.