Ransomware Attack Closes Down Texas Town

Ransomware Attack Closes Down Texas Town
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This article originally appeared in Security Today on January 15, 2019.

Officials in the City of Del Rio, Texas were forced to abandon electronic services after a ransomeware attack effectively closed down City Hall servers. 

City representatives disclosed the cyberattack last week, stating the city was struck by ransomeware on Thursday, leading to all servers being disabled to prevent further spread.

Del Rio’s Management Information Services (MIS) Department then attempted to isolate the malware by turning off Internet connections for other city departments. In turn, this prevented any members of staff from logging into government systems.

As a result, employees of each department were forced to use pen and paper in their work and go back to manual entry for transactions taking place while the ransomeware was contained.

It is not known at this time who is behind the ransomeware, what kind of malware is at fault, or whether any personal data has been compromised.

Mike Bittner, digital security & operations manager at The Media Trust, said the growing number of exploits and malware at their disposal is emboldening malicious actors to attack organizations with a rich trove of consumer data.

“Government organizations, in particular city governments, are prime targets; they not only process a lot of citizen and business data, but are also less secure as tighter budgets severely limit what IT updates they can carry out,” Bittner said. “Bad actors have no doubt put the 89,000 local governments across the country in their cross-hairs. It is just a matter of time before many of these governments realize they’ve been hacked.”

City officials have informed the FBI of the cyberattack and Secret Service has now become involved in attempts to find out who is responsible.