TEXAS HOLDIN’ EM
A recent spree of ransomware attacks in Texas has highlighted the increasing threat they pose to city governments, with experts warning the “lucrative” attacks won’t go away.
The Texas Department of Information Resources has confirmed that 22 Texas entities, mostly local governments, have been hit by the ransomware attacks that took place late last week. The department pointed to a “single threat actor” as being responsible for the attacks, which did not impact any statewide systems.
While the agency has refused to identify which entities were attacked due to an ongoing investigation, the governments of Keene, Texas and Borger, Texas, announced this week that they were among those impacted, with the attacks making it difficult for the two towns to handle utility payments from residents.
There have been a string of ransomware attacks on other cities around the United States prior to the Texas attacks that appear to back up Orlando.
What can be done: DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has published guidelines that it recommends organizations follow in regard to protecting themselves against ransomware attacks. Those recommendations include updating software, not clicking links in unsolicited emails, and backing up data on a regular basis.
Niam Yaraghi, a nonresident fellow with the Brookings Institute’s Center for Technology Innovation, echoed some of CISA’s steps, recommending in a Brookings article published in June that “basic security safeguards” should be put in place, and groups should invest in new technology.
“Government agencies usually have less resources to invest in information security technologies,” Yaraghi wrote. “Old and fragmented computer systems exacerbate this problem, since older systems are much more difficult and expensive to maintain than newer one.”
“Despite these difficulties, all levels of government should invest in upgrading security technologies to reasonable levels, or else many more agencies will soon become victims of ransomware attacks,” Yaraghi stressed.