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Hackers seize Detroit's database, demand $800k. Motor City shrugs: OK, take it

Bitcoin blackmail backfire bungle

By John Leyden, 20 Nov 2014

Hackers seized a database from the City of Detroit earlier this year before unsuccessfully demanding $800,000 in Bitcoin.

The failed extortion attempt back in April was disclosed by Detroit mayor Mike Duggan at the North American International Cyber Summit conference on Monday.

The stolen database wasn’t needed by the cash-strapped city so the ransom was never paid, according to local reports.

“It was a good warning sign for us,” Duggan told conference delegates.

The mechanism of the attack, much less who might be behind it, is unclear.

Duggan, who was elected as the chief exec of Motor City after a bankruptcy filing last year, said the hackers demanded 2,000 Bitcoins ($803,000) as ransom for the database.

US municipalities are at the coalface of hacker attacks, with threats including ransomware infections now major problems. Duggan estimates security improvements and upgrades to obsolete systems are needed across the board, not least in his own city.

“It was pretty disturbing what I found,” the mayor said, RT reports. “I found the Microsoft Office system we had was about 10 years old and couldn’t sync the calendar to my phone.”

“We’re in the early stages of ramping up,” he added.

Michigan state governor Rick Snyder told summit delegates that the state's Cyber Civilian Corp (IT experts trained in security incident response) would be expanded to a dozen teams to deal with increasing threats, AP reports. ®

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