Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook appeared on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” May 5, where he discussed the city’s response to last year’s cyber attack.
Shook, who represents Buckhead’s District 7, was among several guests on a segment about hackers who remotely disabled computer systems and encrypt data in plots to extort money from businesses and governments.
Asked by “60 Minutes” reporter Scott Pelley about the city’s decision not to pay the ransom for its data, Shook said, “At first, it was just instinctive. I mean, if you’re being violated, I don’t know why you should reward somebody for having done that.”
The March 22, 2018 attack on city computer systems had wide-ranging, and often permanent, effects, including massive data losses in the City Attorney’s Office and in the police department’s dashcam video archives. Municipal court records and water billing were among the services temporarily affected. All three computers in Shook’s office were rendered useless and he lost most of his files and a contact list he had built over 17 years in office.
Later last year, two Iranian men — Mohammad Mehdi Shah Mansouri and Faramarz Shahi Savandi – were indicted on federal charges for allegedly committing the Atlanta attack and similar extortion schemes around the U.S. and Canada. Prosecutors called it “21st century digital blackmail” that allegedly resulted in more than $6 million in ransoms to be paid.
The “60 Minutes” segment about the cyber attacks is available online here in video and transcript forms.