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Local Police officer stops cyberattack in Mexico Beach

Local police officer saves taxpayers thousand of dollars by thwarting cyber attack. (WJHG/WECP)
Local police officer saves taxpayers thousand of dollars by thwarting cyber attack. (WJHG/WECP)(WJHG)
Published: Jun. 20, 2019 at 9:41 PM CDT
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A local police officer stopped a recent cyberattack in his city which could have cost taxpayers in the area thousands of dollars.

In early April, Mexico Beach City Hall experienced a ransomware attack which locked officials out their computer system.

"Basically, it put it where all of our files, software, and everything to run the city was basically locked out. We couldn't do anything," said Sgt. Alex Foster with the Mexico Beach Police Department.

Sgt. Foster said the only way the city could get back in the system was to pay for an encryption key which can cost thousands of dollars.

According to Senator Marco Rubio's office, the city of Riviera Beach, Florida recently paid nearly $600,000 to restore their network after a ransomware attack. Luckily for Mexico Beach, Sgt. Foster was able to find a way around it at no cost to tax payers.

"Another IT professional directed me to a company that offered cybersecurity services that decrypted the files," said Foster.

Foster said the city improved the protection of its firewalls, antivirus program, and other cybersecurity software to keep the hackers out. Foster said these ransomware and malware attacks are very common.

"They're even now saying objects such as smart televisions and other IOT (Internet of Things) devices are starting to become prone to ransomware," said Foster.

He said it's very important to have a good antivirus program on your device.

"Do your research before you download the program or buy the program. Sometimes antivirus programs are posing as antivirus or antimalware programs that are really nothing more than malware," said Foster.

Foster also said do not open suspicious emails, especially ones with links asking you to verify your credit card number or other personal information because they could be trying to hack into your accounts.

Copyright 2019 WJHG. All rights reserved.

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