Three years ago a ransomware attack hobbled the city of Atlanta, ultimately costing the city as much as $17 million. Two years ago an attack on the Department of Public safety meant that the Georgia State Patrol couldn’t access incident reports stored digitally. This past June Savannah’s largest hospital system had to revert to paper records after being hit by ransomware. 

In response to these increasing threats the state has developed new programs, implemented reforms and invested substantially in beefing up cybersecurity resources and capabilities. This included the construction of the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta that opened in 2018, funded with an initial investment of $100 million and which aims to provide affordable education and training for the next generation of cyber security specialists as well as serve as a center for technical and policy research.

Just one part of that overhaul was the creation of the Cyber Crime Center, a unit of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) located at the cyber center in Augusta. The changing face of internet crime meant that the GBI’s existing Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, whose focus was cracking down on child predators and pornography, was ill-suited to the task at hand.

“We found, especially over the past few years, that online crimes that are not related to children — so online fraud or ransomware intrusions  are increasing at an extremely fast rate,” said Steve Foster, the GBI’s special agent in charge at the Georgia Cyber Crime Center. 

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