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Ransomware Gang Hits Californian City, Request Bitcoin Ransom

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Coronavirus Leads to A Drop in Ransomware Attacks, But Hospitals Still Vulnerable
Coronavirus Leads to A Drop in Ransomware Attacks, But Hospitals Still Vulnerable

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Torrance, a city in the South Bay region of Los Angeles, is continuing to deal with the effects of a recent hack, as a ransomware group has started publishing critical information from a previous hack.

Doppelpaymer Leak City Private Data 

Torrance was hit with a cyberattack earlier this year, which paralyzed its systems. Per reports, the attack happened at around 2:30 am on March 1, crippling the City Hall’s Email system, as well as the city’s ability to process card payments for a period of time. 

After this initial incident, city authorities claimed that the cybercriminals did not make away with any public data in that period. Weeks after, however, the City officials have been left embarrassed as the operators of the DopplePaymer ransomware have now threatened to release the city’s data online if their demands were not met. To prove that they were not bluffing, they went on to release some of the city’s data.

In even more gory details, Doppelpaymer leaders claim that their infamous attack on March 1 erased Torrance’s local backups. They also encrypted approximately 150 servers and 500 workstations during the cyberattack.

In their announcement, DopplePaymer’s operators claimed that they stole over 200 GB worth of files in the initial attack. They’ve also insisted that they’ll share a decryption key with officials in exchange for 100 Bitcoins – worth about $755,000 at press time.

The cybercriminals published some of the city’s data on Dopple Leaks – a site that they launched to publish victims’ data and show that they’re not bluffing. The site contains other stolen data from other organizations, while the leaks from Torrance City have been archived under a folder called “City of Torrance, CA” 

Ransomware Attackers Continue to Make Bank 

This incident is consistent with a rise in the number of ransomware attacks in cyberspace. Per a report from cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, 2019 saw the US record a peak in reported data breaches to municipal government agencies, as at least 966 government agencies in the country were hit by one ransomware attack or the other. 

Another report from the FBI recorded that victims of cyberattacks paid roughly $144 million in BTC to ransomware gangs between October 2013 and November 2019.

Meanwhile, ZDNet claims that ransomware gangs have become even more hostile recently. They reportedly often request Bitcoin payments, while threatening their victims to leak their sensitive documents if they don’t cooperate. As for what the future holds concerning incessant cyberattacks on government institutions, Emisoft’s malware report suggests that there will be more investments in cybersecurity efforts by private and public institutions. With the concerning trend of cyberterrorism, the call for bigger budgets for IT departments to upgrade their security efforts has been at an all-time high.

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