Reports: Authorities disrupt cyber group that targeted Fulton County

(The Center Square) — Federal and international authorities say they have disrupted the operations of a hacker group that targeted Fulton County and took its systems offline, reports suggest.

According to a statement, Fulton County officials detected suspicious activity on its network, leading to widespread system outages. Reports have identified LockBit as the culprit for Fulton County’s attack.

On Tuesday, the FBI and United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency said it “has taken control of LockBit’s services.” LockBit, which the NCA called “the world’s most harmful cybercrime group,” is reportedly to blame for the Fulton County outage, which disrupted county services, including property tax electronic payments.

“Fulton County immediately informed local and federal law enforcement and engaged outside experts to investigate and assist in the recovery process,” the county said in a statement. “It is important to note that there is no evidence or reason to believe that this incident is related to the election process or other current events.”

The county said it was “committed to a comprehensive investigation.” Fulton County officials did not respond to a request for comment.

According to an analysis from Comparitech, the Fulton County breach follows a trend of bad actors targeting governments and public institutions.

“Last year, LockBit compromised an average number of 269,760 records in ransomware attacks on US organizations,” Charlotte Bond, a data researcher with Comparitech, said in an analysis. “Its average ransom demand was $10.5 million. So far this year, it has claimed responsibility for seven ransomware attacks on US organizations, including the city of Jacksonville, Florida.”

While the county said it would “notify those parties in accordance with legal requirements and provide resources to help protect their information” if it determines “sensitive personal information was involved in this incident,” Comparitech said, “Fulton County residents and employees will want to be on the lookout for any potential phishing emails, texts, or phone calls.”

On Tuesday, the feds unsealed indictments charging two Russian nationals with deploying LockBit throughout the United States.

“Working with our local, state, and federal partners, the GBI is assisting in the investigation into the Fulton County cyber incident,” the GBI said in a statement to The Center Square.