Blog by Anderson Morgan

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Government systems were taken hostage for nearly two weeks!

What do you know about Atlanta, Georgia, USA?

Not much we suspect…

But why are we bringing up a southern American city and what does it relate to cyber security or IT in general?

Well, last month, Atlanta was held hostage for an entire week by a ransomware attack…That’s right, some 8,000 government computer systems were ‘frozen’, to the point where employees couldn’t even turn on their systems!

The knock on effects for the city were huge. Infrastructure ground to a halt, services were unfulfilled and chaos ensued. People couldn’t pay their parking fines (don’t laugh), court dates were cancelled and Police Officers were having to manually file their reports.

The city of Atlanta brought in the FBI, a private cyber security company and numerous other agencies to help identify and eliminate the threat. To this point the city have recovered most of their essential programs.

It is believed that this hack was a show of strength from the hackers – an attempt, if you like to identify the weaknesses of the government data handling and cyber security policies. The US treated this as an attack on the government. The hackers requested a mere $51,000 in bitcoin to ‘free’ the City – a fee which has not been paid.

We aren’t shocked that a city with a population of nearly 500,000 has been held ransom. It was a matter of time before something like this happened, and we predict that unless governments (and businesses) step up their cyber security game then Atlanta won’t be the last city to be held hostage.