Another Florida city was hacked. Thousands of dollars are missing, leaders say

Naples has fallen victim to a cyber attack — the fourth Florida city to be hit by hackers in less than two months.

Stolen: $700,000, City Manager Charles T. Chapman IV confirmed.

The city fell victim to a “targeted” spear-phishing scheme.

“The funds were paid to a fake bank account the attacker provided while posing as a representative from the Wright Construction Group,” a Naples news release states.

In a spear-fishing attack, the hacker disguises the email to make it look like it’s from a trusted source. This type of “business email compromise” targets businesses and individuals performing wire transfer payments, according to the FBI. Last year, victims in Florida lost $82,979,768 to this type of scam, the FBI said.

The money taken was owed to Wright Construction Group for a renovation project the company was doing over the summer to improve water utilities.

“We take cyber security very seriously. We actively train our employees to identify cyber security threats. In today’s business environment, it is not a matter of if you are going to be attacked, it’s a matter of when are you going to be attacked,” Chapman said in a statement. “Despite our best preventative measures, the City of Naples is now a victim of a cyber-crime.”

Naples is working with law enforcement and has filed claims with its insurances and banks, Chapman said. The city also has paid Wright Construction for the work performed.

Naples also wants to assure residents no other data or information was compromised.

“The City’s data systems are safe and secure. This attack was not malware or ransomware, no data breach occurred. The City has and will continue to make improvements to our information technology systems,” Chapman said.

The news follows a string of summer hacks.

In June, the village of Key Biscayne confirmed to the Miami Herald it had been hit by a cyberattack on June 23 but would not say if a ransom was involved. On June 5, Riviera Beach in central Palm Beach County also confirmed it had paid a ransom worth about $600,000 in Bitcoin to recover city data.

Lake City, about 60 miles west of Jacksonville, also confirmed on June 10 that it had fallen victim to an attack that rendered official emails inaccessible. The city paid a ransom of $490,000 in Bitcoin.

One of the most recent high-profile cyber attack was in Baltimore. Hackers demanded a $76,000 ransom but the city refused to pay. It’s estimated the hack cost the city more than $18 million.

The confirmation also comes a week after the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released a heavily redacted 67-page report that appears to include new information about Russian hackers attempt to probe and target elections networks in Florida — including the FBI’s suspicions in 2018 that four county election systems had been hacked rather than two.

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Real Time/Breaking News Reporter. There’s never a dull moment in Florida — and I cover it. Graduated with honors from Florida International University. Find me on Twitter @TweetMichelleM