In the long list of cyber attacks that have occurred in recent memory, the latest one has locked Atlanta city users out of their computers. Hackers demand ransom in the form of Bitcoin and unless their demands are met, a lot of data may be lost.
Cyber attacks are occurring more frequently as the days go by. Ever since the cryptocurrency boom, hackers have found new ways to exploit computer software and computers themselves. There have been numerous large-scale attacks that have seen millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency get stolen. There can be of any nature, the most common one is an attack on a cryptocurrency exchange.
One unique example is a recent one where hackers deployed a small trojan that rapidly spread across different systems. This virus would use the computer’s processing power to mine cryptocurrency for the hacker. One has to be really careful these days.
Ransomware is malware that infects your computer, most likely locking up all the files in your computer until you pay a ransom to the hacker. It’s the digital form of kidnapping. The most popular ransomware attacks are perhaps the WannaCry and NotPetya attacks which infected hospitals, banks, and governments in many countries. This ransomware attack, however, does not occur as frequently as the rest. However, it’s still effective.
The attack in Atlanta city caused many outages which included outages on online bill paying services and some law enforcement data. A ransom note was then found which stated that all computer files have been encrypted and that the ransom payment should be in Bitcoin. It’s not clear at this point whether an agreement will be reached by city officials and the hackers, time will tell. For now, an investigation is underway.
According to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, they’re working with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Microsoft, and Cisco Security to investigate the whole situation. They’re trying to figure out how the hackers got into the city internal computers in the first place, something they might be able to use to get the files back without having to pay the ransom.
It’s not clear if people’s personal information has been compromised or not. However, to be on the safe side, authorities have asked people to double-check their different accounts and verify if anything has been changed or not such as credit card information etc. This is to check whether any personal data has been stolen or not, which may cause even more problems even after the files are decrypted one way or the other. If things such as credit card details have also been stolen, then the hackers can use those for their benefit as well, so it’s good to check whether your personal data is safe or not.
Although cryptocurrency is no longer the giant it once was, it’s still pretty popular and big. The crypto market is still worth more than $300 billion. Bitcoin is also worth more than $8000 as of this writing. Therefore, it’s not surprising to see a ransom demanded in the form of Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency, for the most part, is a decentralized ecosystem where you can get away with a lot of things. This is the reason many countries have tried to regulate the crypto market due to an increase in illegal activities with cryptocurrency.
Unless the Atlanta city officials can find a way to get data back, they will have to give in to the hackers’ demands, otherwise, the result will be a huge loss of data. It’s not certain what city officials intend to do as they’re still investigating. However, with many people’s data at risk, urgent action is required.