Home Bitcoin NewsFinance News Bitcoin Ransomware Attack Halts Atlanta’s Government and Police

Bitcoin Ransomware Attack Halts Atlanta’s Government and Police


Various government services in Atlanta were reportedly brought to a standstill earlier this week when hackers sent ransomware to municipal computers demanding a ransom of USD 51, 000 in bitcoin lest they would shut down vital city functions. Apparently, the hackers went ahead to make good their threat, impacting major services in the city, including police services. Into the weekend, authorities are yet to solve the issue.

11 Alive, a Georgia affiliate of NBC (National Broadcast Corporation) Television Atlanta announced the story Thursday morning. “Atlanta’s Computers are held storage,” the news outlet reported, adding that courts, police departments, and almost all other departments were impacted by the cyber attack. The hackers demanded a ransom of bitcoin worth USD 51, 000.

At around 5:30 A.M an official email was sent to city employees about a critical issue. The emails instructed the employees to power down their computers and unplug them from the walls. At almost the same time, employees saw, on their screens, a demand for the bitcoin payment. To access their systems, they would have to pay. The city management initially claimed it was just a computer outage. However, leaks from different departments confirmed otherwise, with all indications pointing to a ransomware attack.

This is not the first of such attacks to happen in a U.S city. A similar attack in Sarasota, Florida demanding USD 33 million was avoided when an alert employee yanked cables from the wall. Leeds, Alabama paid at least USD 12, 000 to access their computers. Farmington, New Mexico and Hinesville, Georgia have still not gotten back into their systems while Englewood, Colorado had their entire computer infrastructure shut down.

The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) teams are looking into the case. The situation is so serious rumors has it that the city is going to shut down government offices in the next business day if the case isn’t solved in time. However, evidently, the city’s international airport was not impacted by the hack. The police department was, however, sent back three decades technologically, which resorted to writing and filing reports by hand.

Still nothing definitive

By mid-afternoon, the city’s water customers were instructed not pay their water bills online, as the local government asked locals to be especially proactive in case of theft of their data. City employees were openly worried about time-sheets and pay, all of which is done via computer. City officials assured the workers that they would get their pay, even if it meant cutting physical checks. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told reporters that management isn’t sure about the extent of the cyber-attack. She urged patience, saying that they would see to it that they do not “put Band-Aid gaping on wounds.”

While there isn’t a good time for such a cyber attack, this hack comes at a touchy time for Atlanta. The city is said to be a possible site for some Amazon facility, and it is also expected to host the March Madness Basketball events. The mayor is yet to confirm whether the city is going to pay the BTC ransom despite multiple calls.

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Sydney Ifergan

Sydney has 20+ years commercial experience and has spent the last 10 years working in the online marketing arena and was the CMO for a large FX brokerage.

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