Security of our public IT-systems: ransomware cyberattack and city shut down in the City of Atlanta

Publicerat 2 April 2018

The digitalized world has increased our vulnerability, and it will keep on increasing. We can’t stop develop our operations but we need to understand how we shall think regarding securing our data, systems and infrastructure.

It has shown that our essential IT-systems are surprisingly and worrisome insecure.

Pontus Johanson Professor KTH Cyber security.

It is impossible to totally protect our systems

It is impossible to totally protect our systems, but by analysing the latest hacker attacks we can learn how we shall prioritize the development of our own systems. The essential question is: How can we find the balance between development and security?

By analysing the attacks that occur we can understand more about the motives and the extent of the attacks. Many threats can be prevented if you understand how and why they occur and by that decrease the effect of possible events.

Ransomware Cyberattack on the City of Atlanta

One of the latest attacks towards a public actor was a ransomware cyberattack, that forced the city of Atlanta to shut down substantial portions of its city government. Nearly a week later, things were still not back to normal as official’s piece together the extent of the damage.

After a week some government workers could began to turn on their computers and printers since the attack effectively held their systems hostage. In meanwhile the employees had filled out forms by hand.

It is expected that some computers will operate as usual and employees will return to normal use,” the Atlanta mayor’s office said in a statement Tuesday. “It is also expected that some computers may be affected or affected in some way and employees will continue using manual or alternative processes. This is part of the City’s ongoing assessment as part of the restoration and recovery process.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Held the network hostage- demanded $51,000, paid in bitcoin

Atlanta has yet to publicly identify the hacker, but it did say the attack was carried out remotely and not by someone with internal access to the network. The so-called ransomware attack has held the network hostage, with the hackers demanding a ransom of $51,000, paid in bitcoin, for its release.

Of the city’s 13 departments, five were forced to operate “manually” or were otherwise impeded since the attack. As a result, residents have been unable to pay water bills and parking tickets online; the court system has been greatly disrupted; the city has been unable to hire anyone; and the Department of Corrections has had to process inmates by hand.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport ― the world’s busiest ― was unaffected by the attack; nevertheless, it’s turned off its wifi “out of an abundance of caution” until the situation is fully resolved.

Learn how to improve the protection of your organisation

You can improve the security on the IT-systems in your organisation. Come and learn from leading experts on our course on Cybersecurity 21-21st of August and 25-27th of September 2018. Read more about the course here.

Read more about the attack here.