In the age of interconnected devices and big technology, hearing about cyber attacks in the headlines is a common news story. More than 40 municipalities have been the victims of cyberattacks this year, from major cities such as Baltimore, Albany, and Laredo, Texas, to smaller towns like Lake City, Florida. In Texas alone, 22 cities have fallen prey to ransomware attacks. Hackers infiltrated the computer systems of the cities and encrypted their data. The systems are being held for ransom in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, total recovery can cost millions of dollars. Ransomware attacks have grown in popularity in recent years as victims have shown an increased willingness to pay the ransoms. Small cities likely to have older computer systems and defense tools in place have become preferred targets by hackers. Criminals also have begun to use more sophisticated hacking tools. In response, some municipalities, like Lake City, have purchased cyber insurance. However, some experts believe doing so encourages hackers to target organizations that have insurance for such events. “We see some evidence that there is specific targeting of organizations that have insurance,” said Kimberly Goody, a manager of financial crimes analysis at cybersecurity firm FireEye.
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