Cyber attack targeted DeKalb rental assistance program, delaying relief for tenants, landlords

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The DeKalb County CEO says a cyber attack in late March has delayed rental assistance of thousand of tenants and landlords for months.

The computer server holding all the information on the DeKalb Tenant-Landlord Assistance Coalition was the target of a March 24 attack. That server has now been turned over to federal investigators.

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Because of the attack, tenants facing eviction and landlords in crisis have had their relief delayed for the last 12 weeks.

“And they are crying and our agents are crying along with them because we’re all committed to helping them stay in their homes. People are scared,” said State and Magistrate Court Clerk Javoyne Hicks.

“The crime that can be potentially devastating to the quality of life of our citizens and particularly, really, our county as a whole,” said DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond.

Thurmond says he hopes eventually convictions will be brought in connection to this attack, but he is focused on the impending evictions. He says those evictions could be avoided if they can get $20 million in federal funds.

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“Is DeKalb County in a race against time right here?,” Channel 2′s Mark Winne asked.

“Absolutely,” Thurmond replied.

DeKalb County IT Chief John Matelski says the county is on the road to getting people some relief.

The county is hoping to get these people some assistance in the near future with a more secure application process going active Monday at 8:30 a.m.

“We’ve identified the server that was at risk,” Matelski said.

The federal eviction moratorium is currently set to expire on June 30. If that is not extended, DeKalb County will request a special extension.

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Most tenants and landlords will have to submit the new online application. The Magistrate Court offices can help those with questions through the process.

“Do you feel like you can handle all the applications that come in right now?,” Winne asked.

“We’re going to do everything we can to do that. We have doubled our staff. Just last week we went from 30 to 60 people,” said Hicks.

County Attorney Vivian Ernst says the county is fully cooperating with federal law enforcement’s investigation.

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