WASHINGTON-A town in Florida has paid $500,000 (£394,000) to hackers after a ransom ware attack.

The total paid by Florida municipalities over ransomware in the last two weeks now stands at $1.1m.

Officials in Lake City voted to pay hackers in Bitcoin after suffering downed computer systems for two weeks. Coastal suburb Riviera Beach recently paid hackers $600,000 following a similar incident that locked municipal staff out of important files.

According to reports, IT staff in Lake City disconnected staff computers within minutes of the attack starting, but it was too late.

Workers were locked out of email accounts and members of the public were left unable to make municipal payments online.

The town’s insurer was contacted by the hackers and negotiated ransom payment of 42 bitcoins, or roughly $500,000. Officials felt that paying the ransom was the most efficient way of regaining computer access.

“I would have never dreamed this could have happened, especially in a small town like this,” mayor Stephen Witt told local media.

Insurance would cover the vast majority of the ransom payment, he added, although $10,000 would be incurred by taxpayers.