City of Augusta, Georgia Struck by BlackByte Ransomware; Mayor Downplays
Infamous BlackByte ransomware group has recently hit the city of Augusta in the US state of Georgia with a ransomware attack. The city is investigating the incident’s scope and the nature of the data potentially compromised.
Mayor Garnett Johnson announced on Wednesday that the city had been grappling with “technical difficulties,” leading to network outages across various city computer systems. The issues first emerged on Sunday, May 21.
Johnson, however, promptly categorized the event as a cyber ‘incident,’ possibly aiming to minimize the perceived gravity of the scenario.
“We began an investigation and determined that we were the victim of unauthorized access to our system,” reads a statement on Augusta’s official website.“Our Information Technology Department is working diligently to investigate the incident, to confirm its impact on our systems, and to restore full functionality to our systems as soon as possible.”
Concurrently, the notorious ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) crew BlackByte is taking credit for orchestrating this malicious campaign. The group has reportedly added Augusta to its data leak site, boasting the theft of an estimated 10 GB of what they described as “sensitive data.”
Although the city’s governing body has acknowledged the cyber disturbance, they have not yet provided detailed information regarding the specific kind and extent of the data at risk. Mayor Johnson has extended assurances to the citizens, affirming that the city is tirelessly working to evaluate the circumstances and reinstate routine operations.
Yesterday, the mayor released a follow-up statement, emphasizing that it’s still unclear if any sensitive data may have been impacted.
“Augusta’s Information Technology Department continues to work diligently to investigate the incident, to confirm its impact on our systems, and to restore full functionality to our systems as soon as possible. We continue to investigate what, if any, sensitive data may have been impacted or accessed.”
The city promised further updates as the situation unfolds, and Johnson is expected to release yet another update later today. Ransomware attacks have seen a sharp rise globally, with entities ranging from small businesses to entire cities falling prey.
The impact of such cyberattacks is often far-reaching, with consequences including service disruption, data theft, and significant financial losses.
Specialized software like Bitdefender Ultimate Security can protect you against ransomware and other cyberthreats, thanks to its extensive feature library, which includes:
- Continuous, all-around monitoring and protection against ransomware, viruses, worms, Trojans, zero-day exploits, rootkits, spyware, and other e-threats
- Multi-layer ransomware protection that keeps your documents, music, photos, and videos safe against ransomware attacks
- Network threat prevention module that can detect and block suspicious network-level activities, including botnet-related URLs, brute-force attacks, malware, and zero-day exploits
- Behavioral detection technology that closely monitors active apps and takes instant action upon detecting suspicious activities