How insurance companies are fueling a rise in ransomware attacks

  • 28 August 2019
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Insurers prefer to pay the ransom. Why? ProPublica says attacks are good for business.

Renee Dudley for Pro Publica - 8/28/2019

On June 24, the mayor and council of Lake City, Fla., gathered in an emergency session to decide how to resolve a ransomware attack that had locked the city's computer files for the preceding fortnight. Following the Pledge of Allegiance, Mayor Stephen Witt led an invocation. "Our heavenly father," Witt said, "we ask for your guidance today, that we do what's best for our city and our community."

Witt and the council members also sought guidance from City Manager Joseph Helfenberger. He recommended that the city allow its cyber insurer, Beazley, an underwriter at Lloyd's of London, to pay the ransom of 42 bitcoin, then worth about $460,000. Lake City, which was covered for ransomware under its cyber-insurance policy, would only be responsible for a $10,000 deductible. In exchange for the ransom, the hacker would provide a key to unlock the files.

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