Ransomware Hits Texas For Six

The Hackers who have struck a large number of local  government agencies acrossTexas with file-encrypting malware recently may have done it by compromising a managed service provider.  The attacker has now demanded a collective ransom of $2.5 million, the mayor of one municipality has said. 

The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) first  said on the 16th August that it was leading the response to a coordinated ransomware attack that had struck local governments across Texas. The number of local government entities in Texas affected by a ransomware attack has ow riseen to 23.

By planting malicious code inside agencies' information systems, digital intruders are able to exploit relatively unsophisticated or out-of-date cyber defenses and inhibit computer access. Affected users are then asked to pay a ransom, almost always in mostly untraceable bitcoin, to regain control of their systems. Whether Texas officials had been asked to do so was unknown. 

In 2016, global ransomware attempts rocketed to 638 million from just 4 million the year before, according to SonicWall, a  Californian network security firm.

Now the Department of Information Resources advises jurisdictions that have been impacted to contact their local Texas Department of Emergency Management Disaster District Coordinator. DIR says it’s committed to providing the resources necessary to bring affected entities “back online.”

The DIR says it is continuing to investigate the origin of the attack, and currently believes that the attack came from a "single threat actor." The agency says the State of Texas systems and networks have not been affected.

Elliot Sprehe, press secretary for the department, said theDIR was working to confirm which government entities are affected and said other information was still coming in. 

"It looks like we found out earlier today, but we’re not currently releasing who’s impacted due to security concerns,” he said.

KUT Austin:     TexasGov:    DallasNews:     Bleeping Computer:

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