Atlanta ransomware attack hit 'mission critical' systems

A city official says the cyberattack in March has crippled many of Atlanta's basic services.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou

Ransomware has become a popular form of attack for hackers.

Atlanta in March may have suffered the worst cyberattack to ever hit a US city.

The city needs an additional $9.5 million for recovery costs due to the cyberattack, a city official said at a public meeting Wednesday, according to Reuters. The attack has had a severe impact on the city's ability to provide basic services, Reuters reported, and has resulted in the loss of court documents and police dash-cam recordings.

Atlanta didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hackers used ransomware -- a malicious software that locks up your files and demands money to get them back -– to hold the city's computer systems hostage in the March 22 attack. A ransom note stated that all files on the affected systems had been encrypted and demanded $51,000 in bitcoin to decrypt them.

Atlanta isn't the only recent victim of ransomware. GoldenEye ransomware crippled computer systems all over the globe last year, from countries' electrical grids to airports to government offices. It has become a popular form of attack for hackers.

More than a third of the 424 software programs Atlanta uses have been disrupted or taken offline due to the cyberattack, Daphne Rackley, head of Atlanta information management, said at the city meeting, according to Reuters. Initially, the city believed no critical applications were compromised, but Rackley said now nearly 30 percent of the affected software programs are considered "mission critical."

Rackley didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.