On March 22, 2018, a ransomware attack shut down the City of Atlanta’s online systems. The suspected group behind the attack is known for using SamSam ransomware and demanded a ransom payment of US$51,000 payable in Bitcoin within one week. To provide some context, Atlanta’s total fiscal year 2018 budget is US$649 million with US$2.2 million allocated toward Department of Information Technology projects. The ransom demand is a small drop in the bucket compared to Atlanta’s total annual expenses, and the attack itself follows the SamSam group’s method of operating by choosing targets that are more likely to pay and possess both weak security and sensitive information. While the group has collected over US$800,000 within the past few months by targeting healthcare, education, and government organizations, it is unclear whether or not the City of Atlanta will meet the hacker’s demands. Many organizations have been able to avoid paying the ransom by relying on backup files and systems, but other organizations have not been so fortunate or prepared. If organizations and local governments are unable to protect their legacy systems from these attacks, what chance do they have at stopping these types of attacks on the much newer Internet of Things (IoT) deployments?
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