Atlanta government shut down by ransomware


Source: Wikimedia

A hacker took over Atlanta's city government's systems after a successful ransomware attack.

The attack happened on Thursday, March 22 and it encrypted some of the city's data. It also disrupted access to the city's online bill payment and court records systems. According to the local news, the hacker demanded the city pay $51,000 to unlock all the infected systems or $6,800 per unit. At the time the article was posted, there was no word on whether or not the city planned to pay the ransom.

How Ransomware Affects You

As IT professionals, this type of hack is a nightmare scenario for us. One of our client's most valuable assets is their data. Yet time and again, companies come to us for help because they just had their file server hit by ransomware and all of their data is locked. This hack in Atlana just goes to show that anyone can be hit if they're not careful.

Unfortunately, getting ransomware is like having a pipe burst in your basement. You can pump out the water but any treasured family photographs or heirlooms you had are ruined. However, like a pipe burst, ransomware is preventable.

Keeping Safe

Here are some steps you can take to keep your data safe from a ransomware attack:

  1. Backups, backups, backups. Whether your organization is big or small, if you aren't backing up your important data, you are playing with fire. Whether it's a disaster, ransomware, or the all-too-common employee error, backups are the cure for data loss blues. Backups should be performed regularly and should follow the "3-2-1 rule." That is three different backups in two different locations with one being offsite. Backups are like insurance. You hope to never have to use it but you're glad when you do.
  2. Secure your perimeter. The backbone of any business network's defense is a strong firewall and anti-virus. However, firewalls and anti-virus are only as good as the person behind them. If your anti-virus and firewall isn't being monitored, then you have no idea who is sneaking into your network.
  3. Fortify your infrastructure. Windows updates are constantly being released to ward off the latest cyber threats. The smae goes for programs like Office or Adobe Reader. Yet, we are constantly amazed by how many clients we take on who aren't performing these regular updates. The best firewall in the world won't protect your network if you're running an out-of-date machine.

If you want to learn more about your options to protect yourself and your staff from ransomware, please give us a call at 401-272-9262.

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