Spotlight This Week: Texas Ransomware Attacks
News regarding a massive ransomware campaign affecting 22 local governments in Texas broke this week. The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) issued statements saying that it was working alongside the Texas Division of Emergency Management , Texas Military Department, Texas A&M ‘s Cyberresponse and Security Operations Team, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI’s cyber division to understand and recover from the attacks.
The 22 victims have received ransom demands collectively equaling $2.5 million to restore all crypto-locked systems. The DIR believes that the attacks came from one single, but they have yet released from where or who the attack originated. As of August 20, the DIR transitioned more than 25 percent of the impacted organizations from response and assessment to remediation and recovery.
On Wednesday of last week, Gary Heinrich, mayor of Keene, TX—one of the affected municipalities—told NPR that the attackers got access through third party IT operations. “They got into our software providers, the guys who run our IT systems. A lot of folks in Texas use providers to do that, because we don't have a staff big enough to have IT in house,” Heinrich said.
While Heinrich could not say much more about the situation since it is still under investigation, the city of Keene did say that it could not process credit card payments or utility disconnections at this time.
The city of Borger, TX, released a statement that informed citizens that "vital statistics (birth and death certificates) remains offline, and the city is unable to take utility or other payments."
A coordinated ransomware attack of this magnitude is the first of its kind, and many officials worry that this attack sets a new precedent for future ransomware attacks.
For more information:
Texas Department of Information Resources Page on August Ransomware Incident
Texas Says 22 Local Government Agencies Hit by Ransomware
Texas DIR Issues Update on Coordinated Ransomware Attack on Multiple Government Agencies
While One Texas County Shook Off Ransomware, Small Cities Took Full Punch
Cyberattacks on Texas Cities Put Other Governments on Guard