St. Lucie County Tax Collector Hacked by Ransomware Attacker 'Dark Cat'
Fort Pierce - Thursday November 16, 2023: A ransomware attack on the St. Lucie County Tax Collector was the initial cause of the network crash that has disrupted county internet services for the past two weeks.
Tax Collector Chris Craft says no ransom will be paid, and they’re working to fully restore service to County taxpayers the week after Thanksgiving.
“We had our network breached by a bad actor outside. It looks like Black Cat ransomware," said Craft citing 'Dark Web Informer', a group that monitors the dark web.
Earlier this week 'Dark Web Informer' tweeted on X the name of the ransomware attacker 'Black Cat', which has taken credit for hacking the St. Lucie County Tax Collector’s computer system, and demanding a ransom to release it from their control.
Craft said no taxpayer data was compromised. Information about business licenses, vehicle registration and property titles is stored on state servers in Tallahassee. “The most important message here," said Craft, "is that the data that we store locally is not customer’s data. All that is done through the state server that is housed in Tallahassee.”
Tax payer payment information is also kept somewhere else. “Credit card transactions and that type of information is stored with our vendor," said Craft. "And we’ve been working with both of those business partners and they have assured me that there were no compromises on their side.”
However, craft acknowledges that some information obtained by Black Cat was posted to the dark web. “That’s our employee information, HR logs and stuff like that. So, we will be rolling out LifeLock for all of our employees and anyone that was effected.”
WQCS: “How much did they demand?”
Craft: “I’m not at liberty to say that yet.”
WQCS: “But you have been able to pay it off and restore your system?”
Craft: “No sir. The state of Florida prohibits any payment of ransom what-so-ever for events such as this.”
WQCS: “Are you able to say when your system will be fully restored?”
Craft: “We’re hoping that by the Wednesday after Thanksgiving we that should have all services restored.”