Hackers are holding Texas government records hostage

Soon after attacks began the morning of August 16, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered a "Level 2 Escalated Response", meaning "the scope of the emergency as expanded beyond that which can be handled by local responders", according to the state's emergency-management planning guide.

ZDNet has learned from a local source that the ransomware that infected the networks of the 23 local Texas governments encrypts files and then adds the.JSE extension at the end.

"The US state responded by activating its State Operations Center (SOC), and re" sponders are actively working with these entities to bring their systems back online". The state now believes that a single hacker is behind this crippling attack.

The Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) first reported the outbreak on Friday, describing it as a "coordinated ransomware attack".

According to a statement from the Texas Department of Information (TDI), the "cyber incident" hit 23 organisations, and "the majority of these entities were smaller local governments". "At this time, we're not yet naming impacted entities so as to not make them a target for other potential bad actors", a DIR spokesperson said in an email. The DIR did not disclose which towns were hit by the ransomware or if any of the municipalities have paid the ransom.

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Last month a string of ransomware attacks on school networks in the U.S. state of Louisiana led to Governor John Bel Edwards to declare a "state of emergency" in order to give the state access to assistance from public bodies. Federal prosecutors previous year indicted two Iranian men for ransomware attacks on more than 200 victims, including the cities of Atlanta and Newark, New Jersey, that netted them more than $6 million and cost the affected governments and companies more than $30 million.

The organization has been coordinating recovery efforts together with more than ten other Texas and United States government agencies, such as the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the DHS, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and others. Baltimore said in June that it had spent more than $18 million recovering from the ransomware attack.

"At this time, the evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one single threat actor", the department said in a followup statement on Saturday.

Authorities are examining a new ransomware attack in Texas that has taken almost two dozen government agencies offline - the latest in a string of digital hijackings against municipalities nationwide in recent months.

  • Delia Davidson