Did Fulton County pay off ransomware hackers?

Hackers who stole information from the Fulton County government gave Friday as a deadline for meeting their demands, but it’s unclear whether the county paid them off.

A warning posted on the dark web by LockBit 3.0 gave a deadline of 12:47 a.m. Friday. A short time later, the warning disappeared.

Channel 2′s Bryan Mims spoke with Patrick Kelley, the CEO of Canton-based Leargas Security, a cybersecurity firm.

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Mims asked why the warning might have vanished.

“Because they paid the ransom,” Kelley said.

Fulton County officials have not said whether they have negotiated with the hackers or paid any ransom.

A county spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.

Kelley has special software that allows him access to the Dark Web, where he viewed screenshots of what appeared to be sensitive information. He said the data includes information about court cases and medical records.


“Someone with breast cancer, someone with HIV, they may not be prepared for that status to be known,” he told Channel 2 Action News. “That affects your health insurance, that affects your life insurance.”

In the warning posted on the dark web, LockBit claims responsibility for the ransomware attack.

“We will demonstrate how local structures negligently handled information protection,” it said. “We will reveal lists of individuals responsible for confidentiality. Documents marked as confidential will be made publicly available. We will show documents related to access to the state citizens’ personal data.”

While no ransom amount is posted on the warning, Kelley said LockBit is not known to bluff.

“They typically make good on their word of deleting the data on their side,” he said. “They typically make good on their word of telling the victim how they got in there.”

State and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the hack. County officials have provided few details about the cyberattack, citing the ongoing investigation.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts hosted a brief news conference Wednesday but did not take any questions. Pitts did confirm that some personal information may have been compromised.

The county announced the attack on Jan. 29 and many computer systems remain down. The county’s website has been providing updates on what services are back online.

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