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Cyberattack prompts Cobb County to create dedicated cybersecurity team

Cobb County commissioners approved a request to create a six-person cybersecurity team.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The recent ransomware attack that forced the shut down of Colonial Pipeline's fuel supply last month has highlighted the significant threat cyberattacks pose to both private and public sectors.

Cobb County government officials said the attack of the Alpharetta-based company and a recent hack to their system have each placed cybersecurity on the forefront for them.

Earlier this month, the Cobb County government was among several groups targeted in a phishing scam. County spokesperson Ross Cavitt said the initial attack was followed by several more attacks in the days following.

“They had gotten a bite out of the apple, so they just kept hitting us with an unbelievable amount of phishing email attempts that our people were playing defense," explained Cavitt.

According to the county, cyberattackers emailed hundreds of county employees on June 6 and temporarily gained access to the county's system.

“Our employees got emails that looked like an official HR thing … some clicked on it. Those who did gave the phishing actors access to our email system where they could send out emails with a CobbCounty.org address," added Cavitt.

After accessing the system, spammers sent out additional emails asking recipients to click on a link to claim federal stimulus money. Cobb County said that, fortunately, no county data was breached during the attack, and they have not received any reports of people falling victim to the scam. 

The county said it was working on beefing up its cybersecurity measures, and that the phishing attempt only expedited the process.

“This and what happened to the colonial pipeline and others certainly was a wake-up call to commissioners that’s why took quick action on approving the request," added Cavitt.

Commissioners approved the request to create the cybersecurity team this week, adding four new positions, including two existing tech analysts, two network administrators, and a technology manager. Officials say they the team should be fully assembled by Sept. 6.

The county said that the investigation has been turned over to authorities and they still don't know who was behind the attack.

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