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Keizer, Ore., Pays $48,000 to Hackers After Ransomware Attack

An Oregon city has paid out a ransom to hackers who took its computers hostage recently, becoming the latest in a recent string of communities to get caught in an apparent upsurge in cyberattacks.

Officials with the city of Keizer, Ore., met the demands of ransomware hackers — paying the cybercriminals $48,000 to regain access to their computer systems. 

The cyberattack on the city took place June 10, with staff discovering the malware after they were unable to access certain computer programs, according to The Oregonian. Access to the computers was not regained until last week when they paid the ransom. 

Officials told the newspaper that it does not appear that any sensitive data was compromised by the incident. 

Keizer is only the most recent of several cities to be struck by ransomware over the past few weeks, signalling what appears to be an upswing in successful attacks after a temporary lull earlier this year.  

Within the last month alone two prominent cities — Knoxville, Tenn., and Florence, Ala. — were successfully targeted, and attacks in Oklahoma, and potentially Missouri, have occurred as well, the cybersecurity firm Seculore reports.

Like the city of Keizer, Florence recently paid its hackers, forking over $291,000 to the criminals. 

Government officials have reported a consistent increase in cyberattack attempts since the COVID-19 pandemic took off and common wisdom says hackers view the public health emergency as a big opportunity. The FBI recently reported that there has been a 400 percent increase in cybercrime reported to their complaint center since the beginning of the crisis.

Keizer officials could not be reached for comment on the incident.

Lucas Ropek is a former staff writer for Government Technology.