Various communities and organizations in Texas have been struck by a ransomware attack, which shut down critical functions and locked important data.
A total of 22 attacks have been reported in the state. Cloud security solutions provider Armor said in a release that the Texan cities of Keen, Borger, Wilmer, and Kaufman all recently confirmed that they suffered from the cyberattack launched August 16. In addition, the counties of Lubbock and Grayson were also targeted by the hackers, as well as the police departments of Bonham, Graham, and Vernon.
Citing recent headlines, Armor reported that the city of Wilmer was the least prepared to deal with the cyberattack. The city’s entire system went down, with the ransomware attack disabling the police department, water department, and even library computers. The hackers demanded a ransom, to be paid in bitcoin, in exchange for release of the data.
Wilmer Mayor Dr. Emmanuel Wealthy-Williams said that an assessment of the attack was expected to be completed soon, but it would take weeks before the city’s operations are back to normal.
Of the organizations victimized by the massive cyberattack, the Graham County Police Department had the dubious honor of receiving the highest ransom demand of 2019, so far. Hackers demanded $5,000,000 for the release of one of the servers of the department, local news said.
Armor reported in a release that since January 2019, there have been a total of 67 publicly reported ransomware attacks – including the 22 attacks in Texas. The cybersecurity firm also noted that it has tracked 135 organizations in the US that have reported suffering from ransomware since the start of the year.
“A ransomware attack on a municipal government can be crippling to a city. Holding the digital data of a city can cause havoc in all aspects of a city’s day-to-day operations; from trash pickup to correctional facilities,” commented Armor senior security researcher Chris Hinkley.
Hinkley added that governmental agencies are “generally constrained financially,” which means they have fewer security protections in place than a private organization; this makes them softer targets for cyberattacks.