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City Hall fends off ransomware attack

Jeremy Lazarus | 4/6/2018, 7:41 a.m.
The Richmond City Hall information technology staff has fended off the same kind of ransomware attack that crippled city computers ...

The Richmond City Hall information technology staff has fended off the same kind of ransomware attack that crippled city computers in Atlanta for more than a week.

“We have had two or three instances of ransomware in the past year,” Charles Todd, director of the city Department of Information Technology, said. “We never contacted the extortionists because our staff was able to contain and remove the malicious code and restore server-based files from backups.”

Mr. Todd said the department now is working to educate city employees about the potential problems to reduce future risks.

“City employees recently completed a mandatory Information Technology Security Training Course,” he said.

“All should be aware of the potential for social engineering attacks that can introduce malware such as ransomware into the city’s computers, and all should know they are our first line of defense,” he said.

Mr. Todd said his staff is “charged with having the proper skills to identify, contain and remove malicious code. As part of our operations, DIT routinely assesses our position in that regard.”

Richmond also benefits, he said, from a strong backup system that would enable the computer system to quickly recover.

Atlanta had to shut down its computer system, which required employees, including police, to return to a paper system.

The problem began when ransomware was introduced, allowing cyber-criminals to take charge of the Atlanta municipal computer system and demand a payment to restore it to use. The system was down for more than six days. Atlanta officials reported that the system was coming back on line as of Monday.