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Atlanta recovering from cyberattack, its second in 11 months

Atlanta recovering from cyberattack, its second in 11 months

Officials in Baltimore in the USA state of Maryland confirmed Wednesday that the city's 911 dispatch system was temporarily shut down because of a ransomware attack on the weekend.

But, as Georgia Public Broadcasting's Emily Cureton reported for NPR, even if officials authorized the six-bitcoin ransom payment - now worth about $51,000 - to lift the wall of encryption paralyzing a number of city services, it's not clear whether there is anywhere to send the money.

The AJC's Stephen Deere keeps you updated on the latest happenings at Atlanta City Hall.

It didn't take long for people to begin bombarding the hackers with questions about the attack via the exposed portal, risk management company CSO reported.

Ransomware is a form of malware that brings individual computers or entire networks to a halt until money is paid to unfreeze them. Nor have they confirmed the identity of the hackers.

The SamSam group is known for choosing targets that are the most likely to accede to its high ransom demands - typically the bitcoin equivalent of about $50,000 - and for finding and locking up the victims' most valuable data. Since December 2017, it has collected almost $850,000 in ransoms from victims in health care, education and government, according to CSO. Hackers paralyzed the city's online payment system and asked for a ransom of 51,000 USA dollars in bitcoin payment.

"The audit found a significant level of preventable risk to the city. The audit concludes Atlanta had no formal processes to manage risk to its information systems".

Hackers encrypted some of the city government's vital data and computer systems.

He added that no personal data of any city resident was compromised. Dell SecureWorks and Cisco Security are working to restore computer access in the city.

Residents can't pay their water bill or their parking tickets. The police department was, however, sent back three decades technologically, which resorted to writing and filing reports by hand.

Source AJC
Source AJC

Atlanta's public safety services such as 911, police and fire-rescue are unaffected by the breach.

"This is much bigger than a ransomware attack", Bottoms said at a press conference on Monday.

"Everything is up for discussion", Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said when asked if city would pay the ransom.

"There's a lot of work that needs to be done with our digital infrastructure in the city of Atlanta and we know that year after year, that it's something that we have to focus on and certainly this has sped things up".

Of the organizations affected by ransomware in the past year, participants said they responded to an average of five attacks during that time period.

"Our cross-functional incident response team is looking into this matter and working around-the- clock".

Atlanta has been partnering with SecureWorks, a private security firm based in Atlanta, as well as the local branches of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland security.

City officials first learned of an outage affecting customer-facing and internal applications at 5:40 a.m. that day, NBC reports.

"The jail and many departments are running on pen and paper while there is no access to electronic records for municipal court".

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