North Fulton cities: Cyberattacks are ‘constant threat’

The cyberattack on the City of Atlanta didn't affect Alpharetta or Sandy Springs, but city officials say they are a constant threat and IT teams have to be alert.

Credit: Daniel Estrin

Credit: Daniel Estrin

The cyberattack on the City of Atlanta didn't affect Alpharetta or Sandy Springs, but city officials say they are a constant threat and IT teams have to be alert.

As officials with the City of Atlanta try to determine how much data may have been compromised when its systems were hacked in a Thursday cyberattack, cities in north Fulton County are being proactive.

Spokespersons with Alpharetta and Sandy Springs said they weren’t affected by the attack on Atlanta’s data, but the danger of potential cyber-attacks on any city always exists.

“Cyber criminals and hackers are a constant threat to any organization that operates computer networks, websites or a social media presence, and the City of Alpharetta is no exception to that,” said James Drinkard, the assistant city administrator for Alpharetta.

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Over the past few years, Drinkard said the city has had “a limited number of intrusion attempts” to its systems and networks, but so far, Alpharetta’s security measures have stood strong.

Still, he said, the city’s information technology department is constantly making changes and improvements to Alpharetta’s security measures, so personal data or sensitive systems aren’t compromised.

“This includes periodically having outside cyber security consultants audit our security systems and protocols and test them for potential vulnerabilities,” Drinkard said. “Our team has increased the training and testing of our employees on how to spot and avoid the latest phishing scams and other techniques for tricking users into allowing entry into our systems. It is a constant battle, but one at which our professionals are very good at.”

The City of Alpharetta has 426 employees, but access to personal and sensitive data is very limited. Only six city employees have access to employee records, containing HIPPA-type information.

Sandy Springs has about 425 employees. City spokeswoman Sharon Kraun said that “maintaining a secure infrastructure is a top priority” for everyone.

“The city uses a variety of security measures, both cloud-based and local to ensure the safety of our data,” she said. “There is an ongoing threat of being hacked, not only for Sandy Springs, but for any business or municipality which utilizes online services. Knowing this, we mitigate the risks by implementing multiple layers of protection.”

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