NPR has an update to a recent ransomware attack against the city of Atlanta stating the city has yet to fully recover and some governmental data remains encrypted while awaiting the ransom payment:
“Many city employees have been without access to Internet and email since Thursday after hackers locked some of its systems and demanded a $51,000 payment. The city says it completed part of its investigation of the cyberattack, but it’s working on restoring full service.”
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters that cybersecurity is now a top priority for the city.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done with our digital infrastructure in the city of Atlanta and we know that year after year, that it’s something that we have to focus on and certainly this has sped things up.”
Bottoms says the city has continued to operate despite the cyberattack.
Asked whether the city would pay the ransom to fully restore the city’s network, the mayor told reporters that she would confer with federal authorities on the best course of action.
What a horrible situation. It is terrible to read about a major city like Atlanta fighting to recover from a ransomware attack. The fact a breach of this nature, any breach in fact, occurred is unsettling. Ransomware in particular has been all over the news lately, and the city should have been prepared, even with the standard excuse of having limited funding available for cyber security.
There are a myriad of open source and inexpensive yet effective solutions available. Lack of funding is never a fully adequate excuse unless the actors are nation state. In that case, almost no organization or enterprise is safe.
Atlanta should have been proactively defending its IT assets rather than just waiting around for the worst to happen. That the mayor made the above statement in the middle of recovery efforts demonstrates a complete and utter lack of awareness and interest in budgeting for these events before they happen. There is almost no worse way to approach cyber security. Much like safety, it needs to be in the budget, and the correctly experienced cyber security professionals need to be employed to manage the defenses.
This is a hard-learned lesson for Atlanta, and one they likely will not forget anytime soon.