ATLANTA — For cities, states and public entities of just about any stripe, it's a hacking tool causing more and more headaches.

Public officials across the country are increasingly coming face to face with "ransomware"

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. 

The malware comes in several different forms that change frequently, though most often through phishing emails and infected websites.

These attacks are taking place more frequently and are starting to cause concern for government systems nationwide. 

The most recent attack on Atlanta was in March of 2018. However, thousands of attempts to harm Georgia's cyber systems are made every year. 

Government systems are not the only computers susceptible to ransomware. Personal computers, work computers, and other devices are constantly at risk. 

Dr. Dave Chatterjee, a professor of Management and Information Systems at the University of Georgia gave 11 Alive tips on how to protect yourself. 

"Don't be curious. If you see an email that is from your bank or someone who has your information, just call and confirm that the email is really from them. Always have back ups and a good security software that's up to date to protect yourself," Dr. Chatterjee says. 

The digital systems for the Georgia court system are down after a possible ransomware attack on Monday. 

Their IT department says it is reaching out to external sources for further security assistance, and warns Georgians to stay safe online. 

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