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Atlanta is racing against the clock after the city was hit with ransomware attack

By William Gayde · 5 replies
Mar 30, 2018
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  1. A huge ransomware attack hit the city of Atlanta last week and officials are scrambling to get their systems back up and running. This has meant that many city employees have been operating with pen and paper after being told to turn off their computers. The mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms, issued a statement today giving an update on the city's recovery process from the SamSam ransomware attack.

    “It is expected that some computers will operate as usual and employees will return to normal use. It is also expected that some computers may be affected or affected in some way and employees will continue using manual or alternative processes. This is part of the City’s ongoing assessment as part of the restoration and recovery process.”

    The city is working around the clock with industry representatives, security firms, and government agencies to help restore their systems. At this time, it appears that no customer or employee data was compromised although Atlanta is urging residents and employees to monitor their personal information. They will be offering city employees additional protection resources if needed.

    The attackers have demanded the city pays 6 bitcoin as a decryption ransom or else all of their computers will be wiped. That payment window elapsed Wednesday.

    A local news station shared the ransom note which resulted in lots of spam being sent to the hackers. It's not clear if the city made any payment, especially since the hackers took down the payment portal because they were receiving too much spam.

    An audit of Atlanta's computer security systems showed they were vulnerable to such an attack but had no formal process for managing the risk. Despite being warned months ago, Atlanta did not take proper steps to protect themselves. As a result, the municipal court can't hear cases, residents can't pay online bills, and police officers can't write reports or book inmates electronically. Thankfully though, no critical systems like EMS or utilities were affected.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 30, 2018
  2. hood6558

    hood6558 TS Evangelist Posts: 353   +110

    This should serve as a warning to other cities to get stronger security protocols in place before they are targeted as well. Yes, it will cost a lot, but not nearly as much as the alternative (losing all their data).
    Reehahs likes this.
  3. FreeBetaTester

    FreeBetaTester TS Enthusiast Posts: 66   +24

    Does no one back up their data? Offline storage backups? Come on people, the cloud is NOT to be trusted.
    Reehahs likes this.
  4. kapital98

    kapital98 TS Maniac Posts: 313   +243

    Governments have a ton of backups. Places like the County Clerks office has redundant backup and numerous other methods of retaining data.

    The real problem is the offline part. The backup procedures in place are to prevent mechanical failures. They generally are not setup with the necessary software and (just as important) physical firewalls to protect the backups. So if the general system is infected the backups generally are too.

    This is where hood6558 is absolutely correct. It will cost a little bit of money but save them a ton to have rigorous security systems in place. Part of this is an independent backup system. The icing on the cake: Having a government run digitally is still far cheaper and easier to use, even with the necessary/costly security in place, than the old systems.

    It seems Atlanta wanted the benefits of digital government without paying the costs of keeping it safe.
    hood6558 likes this.
  5. hood6558

    hood6558 TS Evangelist Posts: 353   +110

    My city, (Jacksonville, FL) is always in a budget crisis, so I doubt they are properly protected, and they certainly don't want to spend the money. We could be next.
  6. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 499   +340

    Thank you for not paying these thieves off. The ones that have are only encouraging them to make a lucrative living off harming others.

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