ATLANTA - In the three months since the cyberattack on Atlanta City Hall, city leaders have said over and over again that the hack has had no affect on public safety.
Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant that the department has mostly recovered but that at least one important Police Department tool got wiped out.
“It’s sickening,” is how Shields described the effect on her department from the massive ransomware attack in March that held the city’s computer network hostage.
“This has been painful on many fronts,” she told Diamant in a one-on-one interview on Friday.
For the first time, Shields disclosed that the cyberattack wiped out the department’s dashcam archive.
“That is lost and will not be recovered, so that could compromise, potentially, a DUI case if the officer's testimony is not where it needs to be,” Shields said.
She wouldn’t speculate as to how many cases could be affected. When Diamant asked the chief what the loss of the dashcam archive could mean for any use of force or pursuit cases, Shields said she not worried.
“I’m not overly concerned. I’m really not, because that’s a tool, a useful tool, but the dashcam doesn’t make cases for us,” Shields said.
Another effect of the attack surfaced during testimony at a personnel hearing this week by a veteran
Police Department investigator who explained why he couldn’t produce a key piece of evidence.
“As a result, last month or the month before last of the cyberattack against the city, all of my files, all 105,000 files, were corrupted,” investigator Matthew Condland testified.
Jessica Cino, an evidence expert at Georgia State University, worries the impact could be bigger than anyone anticipated.
“It could be far more widespread than just one individual. Remember, it was a hack that infected an entire system. So it took down one person’s computer. I highly doubt it’s just one,” Cino said.
Shields said, if the attack had compromised any criminal cases, she would know by now
“We were very concerned of that in the front end, because it did, it took us a minute to recover them, but at this point, I believe that we have recovered all of our criminal investigative files,” Shields said.
The Police Department, like other city departments, has put new cybersecurity systems and policies in place.
So far, the city has awarded more than $5 million in emergency contracts to deal with the impact of the attack and to harden the city's defenses.
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