Ransomware Attack Targets 22 Texas Towns

Texas – Twenty-two local governments are recovering from a ransomware attack on August 16 that shut down or crippled financial systems and other critical operations.

In response to the Texas attack, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center (SOC) to Level 2 “Escalated Response” with the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) leading a team of agencies to work with the affected entities.

By August 20, DIR officials reported that 25 percent of the impacted organizations – mostly smaller local governments – had shifted from response and assessment to remediation and recovery with several of them returning to operations as usual.

A DIR spokesman declined to identify the towns affected, citing the potential for further attacks. However, the cities of Borger in the Texas Panhandle and Keene near the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex issued statements on their social media accounts that they were targeted in the attack.

Borger officials reported on August 19 that their basic and emergency services remained online, but residents were unable to access birth or death certificates, pay their utility bills, or make other payments.

According to a DIR press release, the state of Texas systems and networks were not affected by the attack believed to be carried out by a single threat actor.

The cyber assault is one of several ransomware incidents carried out this year around the country against governments including attacks against the cities of Atlanta and Baltimore, Jackson County in Georgia, and Imperial County in California. In May, the city of Laredo, Texas, was a victim of an attack that shut down some of its online services and rendered its email system inoperable.

Hackers also have targeted hospitals, businesses, and other networks. If successful in deceiving an employee into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment, ransomware encrypts a victim’s computer and then demands payment, usually in the form of bitcoin, to unlock it. Some governments choose to pay while others refuse.

This article was originally published by Strategic Partnerships Inc.


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