The United States Conference of Mayors has promised that its members will “stand united” against paying ransoms in case their systems are hit by ransomware.
The organization represents over 1,400 mayors from U.S. cities with a population of at least 30,000. At its 87th annual meeting, members adopted many resolutions, including a couple on cybersecurity. One of them is related to ransomware attacks targeted at local governments.
According to the organization, at least 170 city, county or state government systems have been hit by ransomware since 2013. Twenty-two incidents were reported this year, including by Garfield County in Utah, Jackson County in Georgia, Fisher in Texas, Genesee in Michigan, and the cities of Baltimore and Albany.
Some of the impacted entities, such as the City of Atlanta, have refused to pay the ransom -- in the case of Atlanta it was a little over $50,000 -- and ended up spending tens of millions of dollars on recovery. Others have decided to pay up. This includes Jackson County ($400,000 paid), West Haven in Connecticut ($2,000 paid), Riviera Beach in Florida ($600,000 paid), and Lake City in Florida ($460,000 paid).
The Conference of Mayors has admitted that ransomware attacks can result in the loss of millions of dollars and months of work to repair damage, but highlighted that paying the attackers only “encourages continued attacks on other government systems, as perpetrators financially benefit.”
In an effort to disincentivize these attacks, the organization’s members have vowed not to pay ransoms in the event of a cyberattack.
The mayors have also urged Congress to pass the State Cyber Resiliency Act, which would provide grants to state and local governments to help support the development and implementation of cyber resiliency plans.