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Atlanta City Ransomware Puts Personal Data at Risk

The City of Atlanta’s computer network has suffered a ransomware attack, according to officials. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms urged city employees and the public to monitor their bank accounts and to take proactive steps to protect their personal data.

According to a report by Associated Press, City officials learned there was an outage affecting various internal and customer-facing applications at 5:40 am. The outage, which included the encryption of some city data, did not affect the public safety department, water department or Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. 

However, applications that people use to pay bills or access court information were affected. COO, Richard Cox, said: “that investigation will determine whether any personal information has been compromised.”

The city is working with federal agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as private sector partners, to determine the cause of the outage and to fix the problem. When asked if the city would pay a ransom to resolve the issue, Bottoms said the city would seek guidance from federal authorities on the best course of action.

WXIA, the city’s NBC affiliate, reported a screenshot indicated the ransomware was demanding $6800 in bitcoin per computer or $51,000 to “unlock the entire system.”

Yesterday, Symantec’s Annual Threat Report showed that values in ransomware were decreasing.

However, Charles Radclyffe, former head of technology at Deutsche Bank Innovation Labs, said he believed it’s too soon to tell whether ransomware is on it’s way out: "While it's too early to say whether ransomware has had its day, what is clear is that 2017 was the high-water mark so far for such attacks, and high-profile and widespread vulnerabilities such as that caused by WannaCry on the NHS have led to infosec being top of the agenda for CIOs worldwide.”

According to the City of Atlanta’s Outage Alert, its team is working diligently with support from Microsoft to resolve the issue. An article by Microsoft details that “it provides the city with Azure and Azure Government cloud platforms, Power BI data analytics and other MS technologies.” 

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