Industry News

Lake City, Florida fires its IT director after paying hackers $460K in ransom

After a ransomware attack crippled municipal systems, the city of Lake City in Florida, US, has fired its director of information technology.

As the (updated) story goes, Lake City attackers initially hit the city without making a ransom demand. As the city’s IT specialists worked around the clock to recover, the perps made contact demanding 42 Bitcoins, or roughly $460,000, in exchange for decrypting the infected computers. City officials agreed to pay, through insurers.

As reported by WCJB, the city “paid a $10,000 deductible for the decryption key to restore their online systems. It was confirmed Friday that this resulted in one IT member being fired.”

That IT member was Brian Hawkins, the city’s director of information technology.

Lake City Mayor Stephen Witt gave no explanation for Hawkins’ termination, saying only, “Our city manager did make a decision to terminate one employee and he is revamping our whole IT department to comply with what we need to be able to overcome what happened this last week or so and that’s so it doesn’t happen again.”

The WCJB report offers some extra details about the conundrum but fails to provide additional context around the IT director’s dismissal. It’s not unheard-of for a security chief to be fired in the wake of a cyber-attack, but certainly more context wouldn’t hurt in this instance.

About the author


Filip is an experienced writer with over a decade of practice in the technology realm. He has covered a wide range of topics in such industries as gaming, software, hardware and cyber-security, and has worked in various B2B and B2C marketing roles. Filip currently serves as Information Security Analyst with Bitdefender.


Click here to post a comment
  • I see that the info/cyber security positions are being created to be fired one day.. that's just organizations taking the easy way out rather than admitting that they declined and ignored requests from the Head if IT/ CISO to INVEST MORE in securing their systems. I feel that the City manager should also be fired because he was supposed to be taking risk updates about his business which he did not understand correctly.