It’s true that people don’t really know how they’d react to a particular challenge until they experience it firsthand. However, from our perspective, city officials in Florence are setting a bad precedent by voting to pay a ransom demanded by a computer hacker that has stolen information from municipal computers.

Officials unanimously agreed to pay the hacker $300,000 in bitcoin in exchange for the preservation of the city’s data tied to municipal workers and customers.

It’s not a staggering sum, considering the municipal budget of a city the size of Florence. But by agreeing to pay, Florence officials make themselves more vulnerable to future attacks, and the next time, ransom will surely be exponentially higher.

Officials were warned that a hacker may well not release the information taken even if the ransom is paid. Their hope is that the information is returned, along with proof that the hacker has deleted any trace in his or her possession.

As Vince Lombardi once said, hope is not a strategy. Florence officials would be better off working to recreate the lost data while making a priority of fortifying the municipal computer systems. Paying a ransom would simply create a new and enduring problem.

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