On August 20, 2019, 22 cities in Texas became the latest of 23 reported cyberattacks on the public sector in 2019. Those responsible for the attacks are demanding a collective ransom of $2.5 million according to this article by NPR.
“Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim’s data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid.” In 2018, there were 181.5 million attacks in the first six months alone. This was a 229% increase from the same time frame in 2017.
“What’s unique about this attack and something we hadn’t seen before is how coordinated this attack is,” threat intelligence analyst Allan Liska says, “it does present a new front in the ransomware attack. It absolutely is the largest coordinated attack we’ve seen.”
Recorded Future, Liska’s research firm, has found that ransomware attacks aimed at state and local governments have been on the rise, with at least 169 examples of hackers breaking into government computer systems since 2013. There have been at least 60 this year, he said.
Texas is the latest to join the ranks of Baltimore, Georgia and Utah, who have all been hit by ransomware in recent months.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
- It is everyone’s responsibility to remain cyber aware and practice information safety.
- Do not open suspicious or unexpected links or attachments in emails.
- Hover over hyperlinks in emails to verify they are going to the anticipated site.
- Be aware of malicious actors attempting to impersonate legitimate staff, and check the email sender name against the sender’s email address.
- Use unique strong passwords or pass-phrases for all accounts.
- Do not provide personal or organizational information unless you are certain of the requestor’s authority, identity, and legitimacy.
- Alert your IT staff or supervisor if you have any concerns about the legitimacy of any email, attachment, or link.
- Take advantage of available cybersecurity awareness training.
For more information, including ransomware facts and cybersecurity tips, please see the attached guides below:
- Federal Ransomware Tip Sheet
- Texas-Estimated Ransomware Costs
- Ransomware Tips and Facts
- DHS Government Tip Card
- Online Safety
In the year 2018, there was a total of over 62,000 attacks made according to the Annual Report to Congress.
To read more about this incident, check out this article by Bobby Allyn “22 Texas Towns Hit With Ransomware Attack In ‘New Front’ Of Cyberassault” and this article by Edward Gately “Texas Ransomware Attack Presents Opportunity for MSSPs, Other Providers”
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