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Atlanta still fighting effects of ransomware attacks, expert says hack should be a national “wake-up call’

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Cyber-attack cripples Atlanta: What to know

The city of Atlanta, Georgia was hit by a cyber-attack last week and is being held by a ransom. Here is what to know about the huge technological attack, and how this can be prevented.

A week after a ransomware cyber attack paralyzed the City of Atlanta’s computer system, some services are still tied up.

Thursday morning, the Municipal Court of Atlanta announced that all court dates are scheduled for the day would be reset. The city is still not able to process payments for traffic tickets and water bills.

Other services are carried out with pen and paper.

“It was a sustainable model, until we have computer systems, Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters during a light moment at a press conference this week. “For some of our younger employees, it will be a nice exercise in good writing.”

The city has hired SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based information security company, to recover the computers and beef them against future attacks.

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Atlanta restoration of ransomware attacks

Municipalities in general are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks, because they expect you to 24/7 online services at minimum cost to the taxpayer, according to Andrew Green, an information security professor at Kennesaw State University.

“They are expected to do all of this with a small budget,” Green told Fox News. “And so, this is a wake-up call, potentially, that the cities should look at how seriously they take their own cybersecurity posture.”

Atlanta city officials have to decide whether to pay $51,000 ransom that the hackers asked to unlock data that is encrypted during the attack.

Payment if still an option this late in the attack, and would theoretically recover from the city files directly, but with the city leaders in the difficult position of negotiating with criminals. If they refuse to pay the ransom, every desktop and laptop connected to the city’s computer system must manually be restored, allowing the days and perhaps weeks of extra delay in the provision of services for the residents.

A week after a ransomware cyber attack paralyzed the City of Atlanta’s computer system, some services are still tied up. Thursday morning, the Municipal Court of Atlanta announced that all court dates are scheduled for the day would be reset. The city is still not able to process payments for traffic tickets and water bills.

(REUTERS)

“They are in a no-win situation,” Green said. “They are going to end up choosing what is the least painful of all the bad solutions. There is no good solution. They’re gonna get criticized if they pay. They’re gonna get criticized if they do not pay.”

Although the ransomware attacks continues to lock many city-files, Bottoms said: there is no evidence to suggest that the breach compromised personal information about employees, clients or customers.

“But again, I remind the public to remain vigilant,” Bottom said.

The cyber attack did not affect the city’s 911 system or the airport. However, as a precaution, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest in the world, has temporarily shut down the public Wi-fi system and disabled functions on the website.

Fox News producer Chip Bell contributed to this story.

Jonathan Serrie joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in April 1999 and currently serves as a correspondent based in the Atlanta bureau.

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