Atlanta ransomware attack throws city services into disarray

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – An Atlanta cyberattack has caused widespread city-run program outages and raised fears about the security of financial and personal data belonging to government workers, residents and others who have used online services provided by Georgia’s capital city, officials said on Friday.

Services affected by the breach, discovered early on Thursday, include warrant issuances, water requests, new inmate processing, court fee payments and online bill-pay programs across multiple city departments, officials told a news conference.

Federal and city officials, as well as private consultants, are investigating the origins and extent of the attack while working on a plan to respond to ransom demands made by the hackers, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a press conference.

“What we know is that someone is in our system and that there is a weakness there,” Bottoms said. “It is absolutely not what we wanted to have happen in the city of Atlanta.”

Bottoms said Atlanta will take a financial hit from the attack, which is likely the largest of its kind in the city’s history.

“Certainly it’s costing us money because we aren’t fully operational,” Bottoms said, adding the city is prepared to undertake a massive computer system security upgrade to prevent similar situations in the future.

The mayor did not address details of the ransom, but several local news outlets reported that hackers demanded $51,000 in payments made in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin.

Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Sandra Maler