Ransomware Attack Halts Public Services in Gilmer County, Georgia


April 01, 2024

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Ransomware Attack Halts Public Services in Gilmer County, Georgia

A cyberattack on Gilmer County in Georgia has forced officials to take public services offline as the US state works to contain the situation.

The county, in the north-central portion of Georgia, has around 31,000 residents, as of the 2020 census. It is almost entirely comprised of cropland and forest. Its pillar industries are agriculture, farming (mainly poultry), and manufacturing.

“Gilmer County recently detected and responded to a ransomware incident and has taken affected systems offline while we work to secure and restore services safely,” reads a notice on the official gilmercounty-ga.gov website. “In the meantime, the public should expect delays from the County as a result.”

The notice has been popping up on Gilmer County’s website for a week, indicating that officials are still struggling to recover from the attack.

Security notice displayed on gilmercounty-ga.gov home page following cyberattack

In a typical ransomware incident, attackers not only loot sensitive data for later extortion, they also deploy data-crippling malware meant to halt the victim’s operations, causing disruption, financial turmoil, and reputational damage.

“We are actively monitoring the situation and sending updated information as it become available,” the memo adds. “Thank you for your patience.”

There’s no reason to believe hackers directly targeted Gilmer County. Many ransomware attacks are opportunistic, beginning with a simple phishing net cast across whole industries or areas – not just a single target. However, because municipalities across the US, and indeed the globe, systematically fail to deploy proper defenses, ransomware actors find them easy targets to exploit for profit.

County Clerk Edwina Daman offered a few more details in response to a media inquiry, saying the county is “working with nationally recognized third-party cybersecurity and data forensics consultants [to address the incident],” and that federal law enforcement is also lending a hand.

Because the county took its network down to contain the attack, many public-facing systems remain offline as IT people work to restore the services securely, Daman added.

Critical services, including 911, continue to operate as normal, the county clerk said.

Bitdefender recommends Gilmer County residents stay vigilant as hackers typically sell the information stolen in data breaches, enabling other bad actors down the line to profit off the original attack. For peace of mind, consider using a dedicated security solution on all your personal devices.

Bitdefender Digital Identity Protection scans the web for unauthorized leaks of your personal data and helps you take preemptive measures before disaster strikes.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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