Fulton cyberattack may have leaked personal data

The nearly three-week-old cyberattack on Fulton County was apparently a ransomware hit, county commission Chairman Robb Pitts confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

“While the investigation remains ongoing, we do have evidence that suggests this was the result of a ransomware incident caused by financially motivated actors,” he said during a brief news conference.

Pitts also said for the first time some personal information — he didn’t say whether employees’ or county residents’ — may have been compromised. Previously county officials said there was no evidence of that.

A group of hackers on the Dark Web have claimed responsibility for the attack, and posted screenshots of what appears to be personal information, he said.

If that proves true, the county will notify anyone whose information was exposed and offer services to help protect them, Pitts said.

Pitts was flanked by other county officials, but once again they left without taking questions. The county plans to offer an update on the attack weekly.

Commissioners held a 90-minute emergency meeting Feb. 8 to discuss the attack, but held it almost entirely in closed session and adjourned without any public action or taking questions.

State and federal law enforcement agencies are involved in the investigation, and county officials have cited that process in limiting details released about the cyberattack. Several outside cybersecurity experts have previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the hack looks like a ransomware attack.

All county offices have reopened but many continue to use work-arounds to compensate for computer systems that are still down. The attack took down the county’s phone system, which runs over the internet; the internal financial system; online court and law enforcement systems; tax offices; and public-use computers at libraries, among other things.

About one-third of county phone lines are working again, and the county can help customers in person or by phone with services that aren’t now available online, Pitts said Thursday. The property tax system still can’t process payments, he said. Nor can water bills be paid, but customers won’t incur late fees or be disconnected during the outage, Pitts said.

County officials have dismissed rumors that the attack was political in nature. Elections Division Director Nadine Williams said Thursday there is no evidence elections were a specific target, but as a precaution the connection between state and county election systems was severed.

That connection has been restored, and Pitts said the county is ready to start early voting Monday at 36 locations for the March 12 presidential primary.