SWFL cities stay proactive to protect against hackers stealing information

The City of Riviera Beach in Palm Beach County recently agreed to pay hackers $600,000. They sabotaged the city’s computers and refused to fix them unless the city paid up. We looked at security measures cities in Southwest Florida have in place to prevent this from happening here.

Cities, counties and hospitals in Southwest Florida have people’s personal information. And they’re protecting it all the same way people do with their personal computers — backing up hard drives, updating software and only clicking safe links.

As soon as you walk into Genius Computer Repair Service in Cape Coral, you’ll notice old-school thank you notes Owner Giovanny Troche has taped to his desk from customers instead of the high-tech gadgets.

“It happens all the time,” Troche said. “They come in because a virus popped up, took over their computer.”

No matter how many hard drives Troche restores, hackers manage to stay one step ahead.

“[My customer] was pretty heartbroken,” Troche said. “I tried my hardest to recover the data, but it was unrecoverable.”

A solution to this could be paying the hacker who planted a bug in your device in the first place. But that could come at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars like in Riviera.

“Just imagine if you had no power no water,” said Shane Pollard of Florida Department of Law Enforcement in Lee County. “The last thing we need is someone to hack into Cape Coral and then the traffic lights don’t work.”

Charlotte County stores its data in different locations and trains its employees to look for threats and keeps its software updated.

Lee County told us if its systems get hacked, its data is backed up and can be restored. The county uses firewalls and antivirus software to try and stay ahead of hackers.”

“You get on your computer; you don’t think you’re going to get hacked, but it might happen,” Troche said.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Rich Kolko
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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