Texas Suffers ‘Co-ordinated’ Ransomware Attack

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Local government departments across Texas have been attacked with ransomware from ‘single threat actor’

The United States continues to provide evidence of the surge of ransomware attacks, with the US state of Texas being targetted last Friday.

Small local government departments in Texas had their IT systems knocked offline after a ransomware attack “from one single threat actor” hit the departments on Friday 16 August.

The US has suffered a number of notable ransomware attacks in recent months, with certain cities being hit particularly hard. Some opted to pay the attackers, and others refused.

Texas ransomware

According to a statement from the Texas Department of Information (TDI), the ‘cyber incident’ hit 23 organisations, and “the majority of these entities were smaller local governments.”

The US state responded by activating its State Operations Center (SOC), and re”sponders are actively working with these entities to bring their systems back online.”

Last month a string of ransomware attacks on school networks in the US state of Louisiana led to Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a ‘state of emergency’ in order to give the state access to assistance from public bodies.

Texas meanwhile has drafted in cyber-security experts, as well as the military and counter-terrorism units, including the Texas Division of Emergency Management; Texas Military Department; Texas Department of Public Safety; as well as the Department of Homeland Security; the FBI; and other Federal cybersecurity partners.

“At this time, the evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one single threat actor,” the TDI said. “The State of Texas systems and networks have not been impacted.”

There was no word on the amount of ransom being demanded, or exactly what has happened to the infected computer systems.

US attacks

There have been a spate on ransomware attacks that have crippled computer systems in New York, Maryland and Florida.

In May a ransomware attack crippled local government services in the city of Baltimore. That city refused to pay the hackers, despite email accounts being disabled and online tax payments  unable to be processed.

That city estimated losses of around $18m (£15m) from the attack. The hackers had demanded  $100,000 worth of Bitcoin.

But other US cities have opted to pay.

Florida-based Lake City has a population of over 12,000 people, and it opted to pay hackers after a ransomware attack.

The Lake City decision to pay the hackers $500,000 (£394,000) was aided by the fact that insurance would cover most of the ransom.

It came after the council of another city in Florida (Riviera Beach City) voted unanimously to pay hackers $600,000 who took over their computer systems via a ransomware attack earlier this year.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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