Alleged Atlanta Ransomware Attackers Indicted

A Federal grand jury in Atlanta has indicted two Iranian nationals for the March 2018 ransomware attack against the City of Atlanta. Faramarz Shahi Savandi and Mohammed Mehdi Shah Mansouri were charged with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

The defendants are also charged with a myriad of offenses in both Atlanta and New Jersey, including “one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers, two substantive counts of intentional damage to a protected computer located in New Jersey, and two substantive counts of transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer located in New Jersey.”

“In March 2018, a devastating ransomware attack interrupted City of Atlanta government functions and disrupted our community,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak.  “This indictment, which is in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, vindicates the City of Atlanta’s interest in ensuring that those responsible for the attacks face justice here as well.”

According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), in March of this year both defendants caused the “execution of a ‘ransomware’ attack against the City of Atlanta, which encrypted vital city computer systems, and demanded a ransom payment to restore access.” The attackers used a type of ransomware called SamSam Ransomware and it infected roughly 3,789 computers belonging to the city. The DoJ said the ransom note displayed on all of the computers demanded either 0.8 Bitcoin to decrypt a single computer or six Bitcoin to decrypt all impact computers. The City of Atlanta did not pay the ransom.

“The attack significantly disrupted City of Atlanta operations, impaired certain governmental functions, and caused it to incur substantial expenses in the coming weeks and months,” a DoJ release said.  “To date, the attack has inflicted millions of dollars in losses.”

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