Augusta mayor blames ‘threat actor’ for crippling cyberattack
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - For the first time, Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson says a “threat actor” is to blame for the cyberattack on the city’s computer systems.
That’s a hacker who exploits vulnerabilities in computer systems.
Meanwhile, a cyber expert says whoever this “‘threat actor” could’ve had access to the systems for several weeks after breaking in.
“Unfortunately, these threat actors that perform these types of things, it’s a very sophisticated way as to how they do it,” Johnson said.
City officials haven’t named who the “threat actor” is, but a hacker group known as BlackByte has claimed responsibility and demanded a ransom to unlock files it said it encrypted in the city’s servers. As supposed proof of being behind the attack, the group posted city data – some of it sensitive and private – on the dark web.
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City officials are being very guarded in what they say, and the sophistication of the attack makes the ongoing investigation take longer.
“I understand the frustrations even myself,” Johnson said. “You want to answer immediately. But one thing that I’m realizing these are very complex, complicated issues.”
After the attack was discovered May 21, many city operations slowed to a crawl with the computer systems down.
Now all departments are going to return to normal except for three: geographic information systems, enterprise asset management and solid waste.
A cyber security expert tells me that often times when cities are attacked once, they are targets when they return to normal.
Johnson says a possible solution is in our backyard, since Augusta is a cybersecurity hub for the military, private industry and education.
“I think we’re gonna collaborate more with our cyber partners that are here in our community, which I’m excited about because people often ask us, you know, Augusta is the cyber capital,’ Johnson said.
“I think you’ll see more of that as we move forward,” he said.
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