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City Of Pittsburgh's Tech Staff Learn From Atlanta Ransomware Attack

The city of Pittsburgh’s technology staff have been closely watching the ransomware attack that rendered Atlanta’s municipal computers useless for nearly a week.

Laura Meixell, assistant director at Pittsburgh’s Department of Innovation and Performance Management, wouldn’t go into too many details for security reasons. But she said staff have recently put in extra hours since the Atlanta cyberattack.

“There were some immediate lessons learned from this scenario that we wanted to make sure that we were able to take advantage of,” she said.

One of the ways the city fortifies itself from cyber breaches is it allows computer science students from Carnegie Mellon University to attempt to hack the city’s computers. This way weakness are identified before professional hackers target Pittsburgh.

“It’s a great benefit for us,” she said. “It’s certainly something that helps us to test our thinking.”

Meixell wouldn’t say she’s certain that Pittsburgh can withstand the same sort of ransomware that plagued Atlanta, in part because hackers might see that as a challenge.

“It’s not prudent to poke the bull on this one,” she said.

(Photo credit: Blue Coat Photos/Flickr) 

Sarah Boden covers health and science for 90.5 WESA. Before coming to Pittsburgh in November 2017, she was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio where she covered a range of issues, including the 2016 Iowa Caucuses.
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