This year’s ransomware attacks on Atlanta and Baltimore have started a new trend of cybercriminals targeting governmental institutions. In a similar case, ransomware removal experts found Canadian town Wasaga Beach in the state of Ontario to be one of the biggest victims of a ransomware attack in 2018. The staff of the municipality department in Wasaga could not access their PCs as the attack locked their data and effectively made the town’s officials as cyber-hostages.
Ransomware removal experts came to know about the attack on April 30, 2018. Town representatives termed the ransomware as a ‘scam’ in which malicious payload blocked access to their governmental data and a ransom was demanded. Cybercriminals acknowledged corrupting 11 servers of the town.
Wasaga Beach Bargaining Their Way Out of Trouble
Initially the ransom demand was in the form of Bitcoin, totaling 11 BTC which was valued at almost $144,000 according to the market price of the time. However, town officials bargained for almost 2 months. The communication medium used with the hackers is said to be a “secure encrypted email” as observed by a ransomware removal analyst involved in the recovery of files.
The town’s delaying tactics and bargaining strategies eventually proved to be fruitful as cybercriminals relented and decreased the ransom amount to three Bitcoins (worth $35,000) in exchange for four servers. These four servers are believed to be encompassing most of the governmental data of the town. Luckily, ransomware removal experts were able to clarify that any personal information related to the residents was not able to be undermined.
The chief administrative officer George Vadeboncoeur sheds some perspective on the communication with hackers. He likened the experience to that of a spy movie. Mr. George eventually took the initiative to pay ransom after consulting with experts. He stated that the amount of $35,000 was peanuts as the locked data was too important to be lost.