City of Texarkana Not Hit by Ransomware Attack

    More than 20 local governments in Texas are facing a coordinated ransomware attack.

    The Texas Department of Information Resources says that it believes a single source is behind all 23 of the attacks. It didn't name the affected cities or provide details about the attacker's demands.

    Kevin Davenport, IT manager for the City of Texarkana says Texarkana is not one of those 23 cities. "We have an IT managers association with the State of Texas and that group was made aware of the scenario as it was playing out. We were kept aware of updates as it went along."

    Texas and federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, are working with the affected cities to try and restore their access.

    The attack in Texas is similar to other ransomware attacks that have crippled digital operations in cities around the country in recent years, Elliott Sprehe, a department spokesman, said Tuesday.

    "Once it's activated, your computer system is effectively locked from use until you pay that ransom as requested," he said.

    Trying to prevent similar attacks is "a continual cat-and-mouse game" for governments of all sizes, Sprehe said.

    Ransomware often spreads through emails containing malicious links or attachments or by visiting a compromised website.

    Among the U.S. cities that have been targeted by ransomware attacks is Baltimore , where officials refused a demand for about $76,000 in bitcoin to restore access to its computer network. Federal prosecutors last year indicted two Iranian men for ransomware attacks on more than 200 victims, including the cities of Atlanta and Newark, N.J., that netted them more than $6 million and cost the affected governments and companies more than $30 million.

    Several Florida cities in June paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to hackers who encrypted records, disabled their email systems and blocked their ability to pay employees and vendors via direct deposit.

    Sprehe said he didn't know whether any of the affected Texas municipalities have or plan to cave to the attacker's ransom demand.

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