The attack took place on Friday morning, August 16, USA time, when several smaller local Texas governments reported problems with accessing their data to the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). Neither the systems nor the networks of the state of Texas itself were impacted by the ransomware, the DIR said.
Speaking with The New York Times, cybersecurity firm Recorded Future analyst Allan Liska said the August 2019 Texas ransomware attack was the largest so far, and possibly the first time he's seen a coordinated attack of this nature. The county refused to pay the ransom and instead plans to spend at least $253,000 to rebuild databases lost in the attack.
The attack in Texas is similar to others that have crippled digital operations in cities around the country in recent years, Elliott Sprehe, a department spokesman, said Tuesday.
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Texas' state systems were not part of the attacks, the DIR said.
"At this time, the evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one single threat actor", the department said in a followup statement on Saturday.
The identities of the affected agencies weren't revealed, nor was the size of the ransom, but authorities said systems operated by the state of Texas weren't affected.
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In the meantime, the DIR cautioned everyone to remain cyber aware and practice good safety habits. And "Be aware of malicious actors attempting to impersonate legitimate staff, and check the email sender name against the sender's email address". Lake City and Riviera Beach paid out over one million dollars total to the attackers to release the data stored in the city systems.
While attacks on individual consumers may be down, businesses and organizations are getting hit much more frequently. Last year around fourteen thousand cases of ransomware were reported last year.
The US has suffered a number of notable ransomware attacks in recent months, with certain cities being hit particularly hard. In contrast, consumer detections of ransomware dropped 12 percent every year and 25 percent every quarter.
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Ransomware attacks involve a type of malware that accesses an organization's files, locks and encrypts them until a ransom is paid to get them back.