UPDATE: As of Friday afternoon EDT, the extent of the damage remains unclear. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Atlanta City Hall employees, when coming to work on Friday, were receiving printed instructions that, as a precaution, they should not use their computers. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is playing it safe, too, in order to ensure that it remains unaffected. The world’s busiest airport has shut down its free wi-fi network and disabled some of its website’s functionalities.
While the full extent of the compromise is still under investigation, the attack is known to have cut off some of the city’s online services, including “various internal and customer-facing applications” used to pay bills or access court-related information.
In addition, the mayor encouraged the city’s employees and anyone who had conducted transactions with the city to keep tabs on their bank accounts in case their personal information may have been misused.
New Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Richard Cox, who only started in the role this week, said that several departments have been affected. The departments responsible for public safety, water and airport services are operating as normal, however.
Local news channel WXIA showed a screenshot of an alleged ransom message that had been shared by a city employee. The note demands 0.8 bitcoin (roughly $6,800) per computer or 6 bitcoin ($50,000) for keys to unlock the entire system.
The city learned of the attack at around 5:40 am local time on Thursday, when its IT security team noticed “something that looked peculiar” on a server and began investigating, the city’s acting Chief Information Officer Daphne Rackley was quoted as saying.
As for whether the city would pay the ransom, the mayor said that the city would seek guidance from federal authorities on how to “navigate the best course of action”.