Atlanta still battling effects of ransomware attack, experts says hack should be national ‘wakeup call’

A week after a ransomware cyberattack 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 scheduled for the day would be reset. The city is still unable to process pays for traffic tickets and water bills.

Other services are being conducted with pen and paper.

“It was a sustainable model until we got computer systems, ” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters during a light-hearted moment at a news conference the coming week. “For some of our younger employees, it will be a nice exercising in good penmanship.”

The city has hired SecureWorks, an Atlanta-based information security firm, to restored its computers and beef them up against future attacks.

Municipalities in general are particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks because they’re expected to provide 24/7 online services at minimal cost to taxpayers, according to Andrew Green, an information security lecturer at Kennesaw State University.

“They’re expected to do all of this with a shoestring budget, ” Green told Fox News. “And so, this is a wakeup bellow, potentially, that cities need to start looking at how seriously they’re taking their own cybersecurity posture.”

Atlanta city officials have yet to decide whether to pay a $51,000 ransom that the hackers demanded in order to unlock data that was encrypted during the attack.

Payment, if still an option this late into the attack, would theoretically restore the city’s files instantly, but put city leaders in the awkward stance of negotiating with offenders. If they refuse to pay the ransom, each desktop and laptop connected to the city’s computer system will have to be manually restored, causing days — perhaps weeks — of additional postpones in services for residents.

A week after a ransomware cyberattack paralyzed the City of Atlanta’s computer system, some services are still tied up. Thursday morning, the Municipal Court of Atlanta announced that all tribunal dates scheduled for the day would be reset. The city is still unable to process pays for traffic tickets and water bills. ( REUTERS)

“They’re in a no-win situation, ” Green said. “They’re gonna end up preferring what is the least painful of all bad solutions. There is no good solution to this. They’re gonna get blamed if they pay. They’re gonna get blamed if they don’t pay.”

Although the ransomware attack continues to lock many city files, Bottoms said there is no proof to indicated the violate compromised any personal information on employees, residents or customers.

“But again, I simply remind the public to continue to be vigilant, ” Bottoms said.

The cyberattack did not affect the city’s 911 system or airport. However, as a precaution, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport- the world’s busiest — has temporarily shut down its public WiFi system and disabled features on its 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.

Make sure to visit: CapGeneration.com

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