LAFAYETTE, Colo. (CBS4) – The City of Lafayette announced a malicious breach of its computer system that crippled the network last week. City officials opted to pay $45,000 “ransom” rather than risk further delay or damage to the municipality’s online operations.
“I can tell you that using taxpayer funds to pay a ransom was definitely not the direction the city wanted to take,” Lafayette Mayor Jamie Harkin said in a recorded statement.
According to a statement posted Tuesday on the city’s website, employees noticed the cyberattack at approximately 6:50 a.m. July 27th and promptly made attempts to contain it. However, the intrusion disabled much of the city’s network. Phone service, email, and online payment and reservation systems were disrupted.
“The ransomware that invaded the City’s system,” the city said in its statement, “was used by criminals to block access to the City’s computer data until a sum of money is paid. The City was coerced into paying a $45,000 ransom to retrieve a ‘key’ to unlock encrypted data. Ransom payment was not the direction the City wanted to go, and pursued all avenues to find alternative solutions. In a cost/benefit scenario of rebuilding the City’s data versus paying the ransom, the ransom option far outweighed attempting to rebuild. The inconvenience of a lengthy service outage for residents was also taken into consideration.”
Some online services are still offline with no estimated time of repair.
Emergency dispatch was not affected.
City staff, along with personnel from neighboring jurisdictions, the state’s information technology office, and a contracted cybersecurity analyst, is working to clean and rebuild the system’s servers and conduct forsenic investigation. Hardware shows no signs of permanent damage and personal data appears to be uncompromised. However, the city advises residents to monitor financial accounts registered with the city’s payment system. An alert about the breach is planned to reach those residents.
Evidence suggests the attack was random, the city stated.