- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The city of Atlanta on Tuesday authorized its employees to use their government computers for the first time since ordering them offline last week in response to a debilitating ransomware virus that continues to cause complications across Georgia’s capital.

“Today, the City of Atlanta is advising its employees to turn on computers and printers for the first time since the March 22 cyberattack,” Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms‘ office said in a statement late Tuesday morning.

“It is expected that some computers will operate as usual and employees will return to normal use. 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,” the statement said.

Atlanta announced last Thursday that it had been hacked, and subsequent reports revealed that the city had become the victim of an attack involving ransomware, a type of malware designed to hold compromised computers hostage until its perpetrators receive a ransom payment.

The virus impacted “multiple applications and client devices,” and city hall employees were advised on Friday against using their work computers while officials assessed the damages, according to a memo circulated by the city’s IT office and obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper.

“This is much bigger than a ransomware attack. This really is an attack on our government, which means this is an attack on all of us and we just want to continue to be thoughtful, and will continue to be thoughtful to make sure that as a city that we are doing all that we need to do to make sure that we are secure going forward, Ms. Bottoms told Atlanta’s WSB-TV Monday.

Several computer systems used by the city remained offline as of Monday afternoon, and at least one of the affected entities — the website for Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management — still appeared to be impacted as of Tuesday afternoon.

“While our systems are down due to the cyber attack, customers must apply for water service in person at one of the two walk in locations,” a Twitter account affiliated with Georgia’s capital and largest city said Tuesday.

Ms. Bottoms did not say during Monday’s news conference if Atlanta plans to pay the ransom: 6 Bitcoin, or about $51,000.

Federal authorities typically advise against paying ransomware perpetrators.

The FBI is monitoring the incident, federal officials confirmed previously. 

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