Coweta County officials limited access to a number of services, including tags, libraries and courts, after a ransomware attack earlier this week.
Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

Ransomware attack hits Coweta County government systems

A weekend ransomware attack prompted Coweta County officials to restrict servers and limit access to a number of services, including tags, libraries and courts. 

The county’s information technology servers were compromised about 6:30 a.m. Sunday, officials said. While the attack did not compromise the county’s workstations, phone systems or external sites, all servers were shut down as a precaution. 

“This attack, while very serious, was not as harmful as originally thought due to the limited exposure of the attack to all servers and available backups,” according to a statement on the county’s website. “County IT staff have been working diligently since Sunday morning to assess all systems and now to complete restoration using backup systems and focusing on services based on priority. Please understand that it will take a few days to completely restore all services back to normal operations.”

Public safety agencies were able to use backup systems such as radio communications and manual record-keeping systems until services were fully restored Tuesday. 

Coweta County officials have not said what, if anything, the attackers demanded.

“We apologize for the inconvenience,” the county said Friday in a Facebook post. “Please call 770-254-2601 before coming to any County office to check operational status. You can renew tags online at https://mvd.dor.ga.gov/tags/index.aspx We will provide further updates as they become available.” 

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In March, the city of Atlanta faced a ransomware attack that caused outages of various internal and customer applications, including some that prevented customers from paying bills and accessing court information. The attackers demanded roughly $51,000 in bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that allows for anonymous transactions online. 

The attack also wiped out years of Atlanta police footage from officers’ patrol cars. Atlanta police Chief Erika Shields told AJC.com earlier this month the lost footage could compromise cases. It is unclear how many investigations are affected. 

The attack could potentially cost taxpayers $17 million, making it one of the most expensive suffered by local government in 2018. 

—Staff writer Stephen Deere contributed to this report. 

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