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Georgia City Estimates $80K Cost After Cyberattack

The intrusion into the Dunwoody, Ga., computer system was identified by staff, who worked with security contractors at InterDev to shut down servers and disconnect computers in order to limit the impact of the attack.

(TNS) — The recent cyberattack that targeted the computer system in Dunwoody, Ga., cost the city at least $80,000, officials estimate.

Dunwoody said earlier this month that no data was compromised during the ransomware attack, which was detected on Christmas Eve.

The intrusion into the computer system was identified by staff, which worked with the city’s computer security contractors at InterDev to shut down servers and disconnect computers in order to limit the impact of the attack.

Assistant City Manager Jay Vinicki wrote in a memo to the City Council that the attack cost the city $79,853 in additional payments to InterDev. Vinicki asked the elected officials to approve a $125,000 payment to the contractor at Monday’s council meeting, to cover any “unforeseen expenses” related to the cyberattack.

“As we are just at the beginning of the fiscal year, staff will actively manage the budget of IT and try to pay for this increase within existing funding,” Vinicki wrote.

Dunwoody police Chief Billy Grogan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier this month that the attackers demanded a ransom be paid in bitcoin, a digital currency. He declined to reveal the amount requested but said the city did not pay.

A handful of computers and servers had to be wiped clean and it was a few days before the city’s full computer network was back up and running, Grogan said.

“As soon as we detected a problem, we took immediate steps to protect the city’s infrastructure,” Ashley Smith, InterDev’s director of government services, said in a news release at the time. “Data back-ups were used to fully restore systems with no loss.”

In the meantime, the police department had to revert back to the analog days, writing tickets and reports by hand and relying radio communications instead of email.

The attack made Dunwoody just the last metro Atlanta government to be targeted by cyberattackers in recent years. 

The city of Atlanta’s system was attacked in March 2018, crippling the network for days. In that attack, the city refused to pay a $51,000 ransom reportedly demanded by Iranian hackers. One internal report that surfaced in August 2018 estimated the damage to the city could cost up to $17 million.

Last July brought a series of other cyberattacks: first on the Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts, then the Lawrenceville Police Department, the Henry County government and the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.