Nearly four months after international hackers cracked into DeKalb County computer servers, sabotaging the government’s emergency rental assistance program, officials say they’ve rebooted the system and begun accepting applications again.
The data breach, which occurred on March 24, forced the county to shut down the email account it had been using to collect applications for the $21 million Tenant-Landlord Assistance Coalition (TLAC) program.
On Monday, however, DeKalb officials announced the online application portal was up and running again. New applicants — renters and landlords financially afflicted by the pandemic — are welcome to appeal for help with housing-related costs, and “anyone who previously applied but has not been contacted by a TLAC agent must reapply for assistance,” according to a county press release.
“This cyberattack will not deter us from fulfilling our mission of providing rental assistance to the tenants and landlords who have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, per the release.
The TLAC program, which is supported by funds from the American Rescue Plan, is recovering just days before a federal eviction moratorium is set to expire.
Thanks in part to the hack, the county has only distributed about $908,000 of the $21 million thus far. Those funds helped 237 applicants, according to DeKalb materials.
Putting that in perspective, other metro Atlanta jurisdictions have been fielding thousands of applications for their own emergency housing assistance programs.
To make up for lost time, DeKalb officials have beefed up the program’s staff from 30 people to 62. The application portal has also been fortified against potential breach attempts.
The county has not yet responded to Atlanta Civic Circle’s inquiries regarding timeline goals for distributing the rest of the money, and this story will be updated as information is provided.
DeKalb launched a criminal investigation into the cyberattack soon after it was detected, and officials turned over an affected server to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who will probe the case, too.
Click here to apply for the TLAC program or learn more about it.