Augusta not in contact with ransomware group behind attack, mayor says | #cybercrime | #infosec

The mayor of Augusta, Georgia said the city is not engaging with the ransomware group that took credit for a cyberattack that disrupted city systems.

In a statement on Friday, the office of Augusta Mayor Garnett Johnson said it has continued to work with the city’s IT team and outside security specialists to address the cyberattack that started on May 21.

“Our ongoing investigation has determined that an unauthorized actor gained access to certain computer systems. However, it remains the case that Augusta is not in communication with the cybercrime group that has claimed responsibility for this incident,” the mayor said.

The city has more than 200,000 residents and sits on the border between Georgia and South Carolina.

Currently, the city’s 311 service is functioning and is able to forward all requests to the appropriate department. The systems for transit, utilities, trash collection, finance department, and public safety are all now operating as normal.

But the tax commissioner’s office is still unable to process property taxes, and is only able to handle motor vehicle transactions in person.

“A thorough investigation is ongoing to determine the extent to which any sensitive personal information may have been impacted by this incident,” city officials said.

“Augusta remains committed to taking all appropriate actions to notify any impacted individuals identified, once a determination is made. Our Information Technology Department has executed a path forward to restoration, which has allowed Augusta to continue to serve our residents and visitors, despite our technology challenges.”

The BlackByte ransomware group took credit for the attack on May 25, threatening the city with a $2 million ransom.

On Sunday, the hackers told the website SuspectFile that it planned to release all 70GB of data it stole, and provided samples which contained a wide range of personal information on residents of the city.

The city said on May 26 that no ransom demand had been communicated to them after erroneous reports of a $50 million ransom demand.

Augusta is the latest large U.S. city to deal with a ransomware incident. Two of the biggest cities in the U.S. – Dallas and Oakland – have spent weeks recovering from ransomware incidents that devastated city systems and leaked troves of sensitive data about residents.

Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.

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