On the morning of 22nd march, majority of Atlanta’s municipal employees were sent home because the entire computer network of the city government was facing an unrevealed blackout. Later on, it was found out that the city’s entire municipal system except 911 services and waste water management was held hostage by ransomware operators. Even though the administration has recovered ransomware files, but still the system is reeling from the fallout of one of the most severe cyber attack in the US history.
Some experts are suggesting that the city municipal couldn’t even do five percent of their task when the system was shut down due to ransomware infection. From city’s judicial system to the police department, everything was affected by the ransomware.
Even though ransom asked by the operators was very nominal, but paying it instead of doing ransomware repair on their own would set a bad precedent and might encourage more of such attacks. However, some quarters are of the thought that paying ransom might end up the crisis in lesser time.
The attack on Atlanta’s municipal system must be viewed differently from all other ransomware attacks. As in the case of former, the entire city was virtually held hostage by ransomware attackers.
This ransomware activity is more crucial from the security point of view as well. An entire city with the population of hundreds and thousands, where no government institute is able to carry out their routine tasks, becomes very vulnerable to real terror threats.
The hacking of Atlanta’s municipal system also signifies that it’s about time that governments start to consider cyber security an important tool of public safety. This means local governments should spend equal amount of budget on streamlining their cyber security as they do on the policing or other departments related to public safety.
We are hoping that local governments all across the US and beyond have learnt an important lesson from the crisis of Atlanta. As how important it is to invest in digital infrastructure since it has become quite unmistakable that any glitch in virtual world directly affects the real life.