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Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced Wednesday morning that two Iranian citizens have been indicted in connection with a series of cyberattacks across America, including the March assault of the city of Atlanta’s computer systems.
The cyberattack caused myriad issues as Atlanta tried to get its systems back online.
Rosenstein said the indictment also accuses the same defendants of a similar attack on the city of Newark, New Jersey, and some 200 other victims.
Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri and Faramarz Shahi Savandi allegedly collected some $6 million from various victims, which also included hospitals and businesses. They allegedly were in Iran and used so-called ransomware to shut down the computer systems and then demand payments to bring them back online.
“They knew that shutting down those computer systems would cause significant harm to innocent victims and would maximize their leverage, their ability to extort those ransomware payments from the victim organizations,” Rosenstein said.
The two suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer and transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer.
“Obviously, it was extremely disruptive to the city, but this has happened to people worldwide,” Bottoms said.
The indictment did not identify which victims paid the ransom, but the Bottoms administration has insisted the city did not.
Earlier this year, Channel 2 Action News exposed a confidential internal city report confirming that after the attack, Atlanta taxpayers spent about $5 million on emergency information technology contracts and could spend another $11 million on future contracts.
“What assurance do you want to give them that this won’t happen again?” Diamant asked Bottoms.
“We are working with the best experts available, and we have had so many resources available to us to help us navigate this, so we’ve had the best at the table to make sure that even as we repair our system and rebuild our system, that we can be as safe as any system can possibly be,” Bottoms said.
The defendants remain fugitives.
The City of Atlanta released a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying:
“The City of Atlanta is aware of the U.S. Department of Justice’s indictment related to the March cyber-attack against the City. We are grateful for all our federal partners who have assisted with identifying the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. The Administration remains committed to ensuring the ongoing safety and security of the City’s cyber-infrastructure, as well as that of the people of Atlanta.”