Cyberattacks in Atlanta likely to be the most damaging in US municipal history

It was only this past March that the city of Atlanta was hit by a massive ransomware attack. However, city officials are claiming an additional $9.5 million dollars is required for the ongoing recovery effort. As the city struggles to restore normal and secure operations, many are wondering how high the total bill for the restoration will get.

Atlanta GA Cyber Attack

When the city first took action in April, costs very quickly reached nearly $3 million. A recent Reuters report called the attack “the worst cyber assault on any US city” and noted the following implications:

  • Over 30% of software programs used by the municipality were uninstalled or disabled by the attack.
  • Countless municipal applications and government services were stolen, with nearly a third of affected data related to critical services like police and court departments.
  • The loss of over 70 municipal computers and the loss of over a decade’s worth of legal court documents.
  • An undisclosed amount of lost dash-cam footage from Atlanta PD.

Worse Than It Seemed: Additional Time and Money Required for Atlanta Restoration

However, with the recent request for an additional $9.5 million in recovery funding, it’s becoming quite clear that the scope of municipal government services implicated in the attack is far larger than these earlier reports suggested. According to city officials, the additional funding will be used to rebuild applications and restore services disabled or destroyed by the ransomware catastrophe. Not to mention, this $9.5 million request is in addition to the $35 million allotment the municipal IT department will be making in the annual budget.

Funding allotments have yet to be finalized and decided, and Atlanta’s 2019 municipal budget process was postponed in light of the massive cyberattack. Atlanta Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms announced her administration’s commitment to determining the root cause of the attack, as well as its overall impact on municipal operations. However, with such a large attack and a new fiscal year beginning on July 1st, the city is still struggling to respond strategically.

Maybe the Worst, But Not the First: Municipalities Increasingly Hit by Cybercrime

Atlanta isn’t the only municipality to be struck by cybercrime in recent memory. Though the scope of the Atlanta attack may be record-breaking, attacks on US cities aren’t a singular phenomenon. Just in the last two years, government departments in Rhode Island and North Carolina have made headlines. Not to mention countless attacks on emergency service departments in cities across the country.

So, the question becomes: if municipal and governmental departments are struggling, how can business professionals ensure their own data isn’t sitting prey for cybercriminals? Staying proactively informed is a great first step. Communicating with your team and developing cybersecurity best practices is even better. But even with these best intentions leading the way, cities, governments, and businesses are still at risk for data loss.

Full Throttle Response: Why Consulting an IT Security Expert Makes All the Difference

More and more, IT partners and managed security service providers (MSSPs) are playing a vital role in helping businesses – and governments – stay secure and protected. In fact, two award-winning MSSPs – Secureworks and EY – have been at the forefront of Atlanta’s recovery effort.

However, in an age of cost reduction, professionals are often wary about hiring external partners to do jobs they think they can manage themselves. This is understandable, and to some extent, business professionals do have resources available to help mitigate cyber risk on their own. The problem is, cybercrime is incredibly unpredictable. Standalone automated solutions simply don’t measure up to the reliability and expertise offered by IT security trade professionals.

Partnering with a managed IT security provider offers countless benefits, including:

  • Strategic planning – Partnering with an experienced MSSP is one of the best ways to implement strategic planning. An experienced and reliable partner will perform network evaluations, identify and fix vulnerabilities, and help develop detailed and customized plans for responding to threats and attacks.
  • Informed expertise – One of the most useful benefits of partnering with IT security professionals is the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring with them. Managed security experts know how to identify and properly handle all kinds of attacks including ransomware and other malware infections. Simply put, it helps to have someone on your team who truly knows the nuts and bolts.
  • Best practice development If you’re looking to get concrete procedures and best practices on paper, an IT security partner can help spearhead the process. Using their experience and expertise, IT partners can help you create strategies and best practices to continually mitigate risk at all endpoints.
  • Proactive monitoring, management, and updates Another key benefit of partnering with an IT security team is the reliability and consistency they bring. Having an IT security partner in your corner ensures there is a constant eye on your systems. Your IT partner ensures things are continually monitored and managed. Including everything from software and hardware updates to access controls and user permissions.
  • Employee education and empowerment Perhaps most importantly, the right IT security partner is the best way to get your team more informed, prepared and vigilant. A managed security provider can help educate your team about different attacks and strategies for effective response. This way, even the weakest links in your security chain are taken care of.

Making Moves: Take Action Before Cybercrime Hits Your Company

Overall, partnering with an expert increases the chances of keeping business networks and servers unpenetrated. Partners provide a wealth of information and resources that help business professionals stay focused and productive while remaining vigilant in the face of cybercrime. This helps team members better identify threats as they occur and respond accordingly to keep them from escalating out of control.

Looking to tighten your cybersecurity effort but not sure where to get started? Desperate to avoid the potentially massive costs of ransomware restoration? Reach out to a team of IT professionals today. A team of experts will do whatever it takes to ensure your data is as secure as possible. Even better they’ll make you feel empowered to be your own cyber security hero.

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