CORNELIA – The City of Cornelia received an unwanted gift in the form of ransomware over the Christmas weekend.
The incident began on Dec. 26 and City Manager Donald Anderson said it was necessary to wait until today to release information.
“We have anticipated situations such as this and, out of an abundance of caution, we have taken down our network while we investigate and restore our data,” Anderson said. “We have alerted law enforcement and we are cooperating with their investigation. First responders and emergency phone lines are unaffected. City operations, such as garbage pickup and utility work, are proceeding normally. City Hall phones and emails are currently working. However, city administrative software is currently offline so we cannot look up the balance of your bills and cannot accept credit card payments for services at this time.”
The city also dealt with an unrelated issue with its Internet-based telephone system on Monday.
“Ransomware is, unfortunately, fairly common and no entity is immune,” Anderson said. “We have engaged external experts to help us resolve the matter. According to them, the business model of those behind the ransomware is typically not to profit off selling the personal information of city employees or our citizens on the Internet – it is to extract a payment from the city itself.”
Anderson said he is unable to provide additional details of the cyberattack at this time but added the city will release updates as the investigation progresses.
Members of the public with non-emergency requests should contact city hall at (706) 778-8585, Anderson said.