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A hacker has been holding the Spanish city of Jerez de la Frontera hostage since Tuesday this week, looking for an undisclosed payment to be made in Bitcoin.
Problems with city services
The hacker began an attack on the city’s systems on Tuesday night and has caused severe problems and even outages of the city’s website. He is asking for a payment in Bitcoin to release the systems. The city has not disclosed the amount of BTC he is asking for. According to the AFP, the interior ministry of Spain has sent three computer experts to the city to take control of the situation. Meanwhile, the mayor of the city said that the site would only be restored when they are sure that it is 100% safe to access.
Ransomware raise their head again
Since 2017, when cryptocurrency started going mainstream and their prices started to rise, the number of frauds, hacks and ransomware attacks has increased exponentially. Several government institutions and larger organizations have previously been held hostage to these attacks. Last month, the state of Texas said that it would not bow down to the demands of hackers asking for ransomware. The city officials were able to recover over half of the system locked down by hackers.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recently released new guidance saying that it may make sense for some organizations to pay the ransom to the hackers. The general advice for organizations is to avoid paying the ransom and ensure that they recover their systems. It was believed that paying ransoms could reward criminal behavior and promote hackers to target other organizations as well. However, the city of Baltimore is paying the price for adopting this method. The mayor of Baltimore decided that not paying the ransom was a good idea because of which the city’s recovery bill has crossed a whopping $18 million, with chances of more growth.
The FBI said that it
“understands that when businesses are faced with an inability to function, executives will evaluate all options to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers.”
Jeanette Manfra, the assistant director for Cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security, also made similar comments about paying ransoms recently.