Atlanta is being held hostage, by computer hackers who want more than $50,000 in bitcoin to stop their siege. "This is much bigger than a ransomware attack, this really is an attack on our government," Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said at a Monday presser about the e-attack, per Reuters, adding, "We are dealing with a [cyberhostage] situation." Bitcoinist reports the hack began Thursday morning, and it has taken down Atlanta's online bill payment system from some remote location, says Bottoms, who's staying mum over whether the ransom will be paid. (Bitcoinist notes, however, the city has "no plans" to pay up.) The FBI, Homeland Security, Cisco, and Microsoft are all teaming up to help the city figure out what data has been breached and what steps to take next in what Bottoms has deemed a "massive inconvenience," reports ABC News.
Ransomware is a form of malware that brings individual computers or entire networks to a halt until money is paid to unfreeze them. The city's Twitter account posted Monday that "at this time, there is no evidence to show that customer or employee data has been compromised," though it did warn people to take standard precautions to protect their info. In Cobb County, that included instructions to county workers not to open any emails from the City of Atlanta, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Per Reuters, the hackers have already been IDed, though no names have yet been given. Over the weekend, 11Alive posted a list of non-impacted services, and WSBTV reports that customers won't be charged late fees if they're unable to pay bills online. (Read more Atlanta stories.)