The damage from Atlanta’s huge cyberattack is even worse than the city first thought


Digital Directorship – Cybersecurity: Government

The damage from Atlanta’s huge cyberattack is even worse than the city first thought

Atlanda cyber attack shutdown

Source: TechCrunch Taylor Hatmaker 2018

More than two months after a cyberattack hobbled many of its critical municipal systems, the city of Atlanta is still sorting through the wreckage of what is likely the worst cyberattack targeting a U.S. city to date.

On March 22, Atlanta’s connected systems city-wide were hit with a ransomware message locking their respective files and demanding an approximately $50,000 payment in bitcoin (the price has fluctuated since). The ransomware is believed to be from the group known as SamSam, which has been operating and executing similar attacks since at least 2015.

In the days following the March 22 incident, Atlanta residents were unable to do simple city system-dependent tasks like paying parking tickets or utility bills. City employees didn’t get the all-clear to turn on their computers until five days later and many city systems still have not recovered.

On Wednesday during a budget meeting, Daphne Rackley, Atlanta’s Interim Chief Information Officer and head of Atlanta Information Management, disclosed new details about the extent of the damage. As Reuters reports, at least one third of the 424 software programs that the city runs remain offline or partially inoperable. Almost 30 percent of those programs are deemed “mission critical” by the city meaning that they control crucial city services like the court system and law enforcement. In the meeting, Rackley explained that the city initially believed only 20 percent of the city’s software programs to be affected by the attack, none of which affected critical systems.

While reporting the updated numbers, Rackley estimated that $9.5 million would need to be added to the department’s $35 million budget to address the remaining damage. That amount is on top of the more than two million dollars in emergency procurements sought by Atlanta Information Management following the attack.

TechCrunch has reached out to Atlanta Information Management about how that additional $9.5 million for recovery from the attack would be allocated and will update if we learn further details. Earlier this week, Atlanta’s Police Chief disclosed that the cyberattack destroyed “years” worth of police dash cam video footage.

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Atlanta has been regarded as a frontrunner for Amazon’s second headquarters in some analyses, though it’s not immediately clear how the cyberattack will affect the city’s odds.


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Richard Spangenberg

About the Author: Richard Spangenberg, CEO and Executive Director of Digital Directorship & board member at several companies, is a senior c-suite level executive, innovative strategic marketing leader, and digital/big data/AI specialist familiar with digital transformation, cybersecurity, startups, and social media integration to existing programs.