• Lake City fires IT manager after paying $460K to hackers

    By: Jamarlo Phillips , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    LAKE CITY, Fla. - Lake City has fired one of its top employees after the city was forced to pay nearly half a million dollars to recover the city’s servers, phones and emails from a cyberattack.

    The city has officially cut ties with its information technology manager.

    Brian Hawkins served as the IT manager for five years. He was fired from the job in June.

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    The decision came after a "triple threat" cyberattack disabled city systems. 

    Meghan Hewett believes the city made the right decision.

    “They need to look into a better IT guy,” Hewett explained. 

    The city is currently looking to replace Hawkins.

    Mayor Stephen Witt says they’re already in the process of interviewing potential candidates for the job.

    Witt also says the city is planning to revamp its entire IT department at City Hall. 

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    "In this day and time, you've got to have someone with extreme skills because they have the best of the best, it seems like, because even the FBI and FDLE has not been able to stop them.  We're going to have to do what we can and get the best we can afford," Witt said. 

    In June, the city’s insurance company paid $460,000 in bitcoins to get their systems back. 

    Mayor Witt says city workers tried to restore the networks themselves following the ransomware attack but it didn’t work.

    It’s something people who live nearby say could have been prevented. 

    “I mean, they had to fire the IT guy, but I’m hoping that can’t happen again. That’s our money that goes to our utilities and that’s our taxpayer money that has to go back out and be used for something else or to do something else,” said Hewitt. 
     
    Witt told Action News Jax the city is still recovering from the attack. He says things should return to normal soon.

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