City of Atlanta targeted by ransomware cyberattack

By Daniel Uria  |  March 22, 2018 at 11:43 PM
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March 22 (UPI) -- The city of Atlanta's computer systems were targeted by a ransomware cyberattack Thursday morning, city officials said.

City officials warned that employees and anyone who conducted transactions with the city may have had their information jeopardized by the cyberattack, which caused caused outages to multiple internal and external applications for the city including applications customers use to pay bills or access court related information.

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms also said the city was unsure how much sensitive information was compromised and urged employees to monitor their bank accounts to see if their financial information had been accessed.

"Because we don't know, I think it would be appropriate for the public just to be vigilant in checking their accounts and making sure their credit agencies have also been notified," Bottoms said.

The Department of Atlanta Information Management learned of the outages at 5:40 a.m. when workers noticed peculiar activity on the computer network.

"The city of Atlanta has experienced a ransomware cyberattack," said Richard Cox, the city's chief operating officer. "his attack has encrypted some of the city data, however, we're still validating the extent of the compromise."

The public safety department, water services, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the city's emergency 911 response networks, including those used by police and fire departments, operated without incident.

City officials didn't disclose the amount of the requested ransom or if they intended to pay, but Bottoms said they were seeking help from federal agencies.

"Our information management team is working with the FBI, homeland security, also external partners from Microsoft and Cisco Cybersecurity incident response team to help resolve this issue," Bottoms said. "We have been working diligently all day long to try to come to some type of resolution."

Ransomware attacks computers and hold them ransom for a specific amount of money for a decryption key, usually paid in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency to allow for anonymous transactions.

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