Cox called it a "ransomware cyber attack". According to DHS officials, the attack hit the city at around 5 a.m.Thursday morning and officials informed the public hours later. An internal email shared with WXIA said that the internal systems affected include the city's payroll application.
In a statement on Twitter, the city said it is "currently experiencing outages on various customer facing applications, including some that customers may use to pay bills or access court-related information".
Officials in Atlanta and the FBI are investigating a large-scale cyber attack that encrypted some personal and financial data stored on city networks. When asked in the news conference if the city was going to pay a ransom, Bottoms said, "We can't speak to that right now". Although it did not publish the screenshot, the broadcaster reports the ransom note demands about $6,800 per computer or $51,000, payable in the virtual currency bitcoin, to unlock all of the city's computers.
Cox and his team are working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and DHS agents, but also with incident response teams from Cisco and Microsoft. An article by Microsoft details that "it provides the city with Azure and Azure Government cloud platforms, Power BI data analytics and other MS technologies".
Bottoms said that the city's municipal courts should be open on Friday. Ransomware attacks have taken aim at U.S cities and infrastructure in the past, including a November 2016 attack against the San Francisco transit system.
"The city of Atlanta has experienced a ransomware cyber attack", confirmed Richard Cox, the city's chief operating officer.
Atlanta's mayor declined to say whether the city will pay off the hacker.
The city plans to move systems to a more secure platform, but won't release the time frame for that move, said Chief Information Officer Daphne Rackley at the press conference.
Those past steps may have helped limit the scope of the attack, Rackley said.
The mayor also advised any consumers or businesses who have transacted with the city they may potentially be at risk.
"Because we don't know, I think it would be appropriate for the public just to be vigilant in checking their accounts and making sure their credit agencies have also been notified", Bottoms said.