Georgia troopers back to using paper after ransomware attack

Department of Public Safety network servers offline since Friday

By Brittany Muller - Reporter

KINGSLAND, Ga. - A ransomware attack late last week left the Georgia Department of Public Safety and Georgia State Patrol computers offline.

Lt. Stephanie Stallings, GSP spokesperson, said a message popped up on an employee's computer, prompting preventative measures to shut all server networks down. The servers have been offline since Friday.

The GSP's tech division, the Georgia Tech Authority, which handles network and serves, is now checking every device in all 52 state patrol post locations across the state to see if more devices are affected.

"It's a criminal attack somebody gained access and the proper access to one of their computers that had privileged network presence and they were able to put a piece of malicious software on it," Christopher Hamer, a security consultant, told News4Jax.

Hamer said the attack is an inconvenience to the troopers and it has a financial impact on the state since it doesn't have access to its systems.

"Once you’ve got and your data recovered and verified that you pretty much walk away from the entire system because you don’t know what else has been compromised," Hamer said.

The state said Georgia Tech Authority is downloading new protective software on all devices, which are purposely offline until further notice.

Stallings said it's still business as usual. Staff and officers are doing their jobs in the traditional way using paper that they used in the days before having laptops in patrol cars.

"This ransomware attack has certainly caused DPS to revert to a more traditional way of dispatching and patrolling. The technology we have become accustomed to, at present, is not readily available at the fingertips of the troopers, Motor Carriers Office, and the Capitol Police Officers in their patrol vehicles," Stallings said. "Even still, they are all working as usual, keeping our roadways safe. Traffic crashes are still being investigated, support to other agencies is still being provided, and traffic enforcement is still a top priority for DPS."

News4Jax found there were 184 million ransomware attacks worldwide in 2018. It cost Atlanta $17 million to recover from a hack last year.

In June, Lake City was targeted by a malware attack. The hacker demanded a Bitcoin ransom the or the government files would be locked forever. After a 15-day standoff, Lake City agreed to pay the $460,000 ransom. All but a $10,000 deductible was paid by the city's insurance company. 

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