- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2018

The ransomware infection that crippled the city of Atlanta’s computer systems last month has cost nearly $3 million so far, local media reported Wednesday — about 54 times the amount sought by its culprit.

Atlanta spent nearly $2.7 million on eight emergency contracts related to last month’s ransomware infection, including a $650,000 contract with cybersecurity firm SecureWorks, two contracts with private technology firms each worth over $1 million, a $600,000 contract with a management consultant firm and another $50,000 contract with a public relations firm, WSB-TV reported.

The contracts covered work for the city related to the ransomware infection ranging from assessing the damages caused by the attack and developing action plans, to advising and consultancy and crisis communication services, the outlet reported.

Several web pages and services used by the city of Atlanta became infected on March 22 with ransomware, a type of malicious software designed to encrypt the contents of vulnerable computers and hold that data hostage until its perpetrators received a payment, and government systems were offline afterwards as a direct result of the incident, either because of infections or as a precaution.

The ransomware that infected Atlanta’s computers sought payment in the form of six Bitcoin, or about $51,000 at the time of the incident.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Chief Operating Officer Richard Cox declined to reveal whether the city paid the ransom at an event Tuesday, Government Technology reported.

City computers are still coming back online “each week,” Mr. Cox said, GovTech reported, adding that he was “absolutely certain that we’re going to come out of this with better systems than we had before.”

The FBI advises victims against paying ransomware perpetrators, and individuals who agree to pay aren’t necessarily guaranteed they’ll recover.

Ransomware accounted for 39 percent of all malware-related infections spotted in 2017, according to a data breach report released earlier this week by Verizon Communications. More recently, a ransomware infection last month briefly disrupted operations of an emergency dispatch system used by the city of Baltimore.

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