The state of Texas is so far refusing to comply with the demands of a ransomware attack that affected 22 local governments, the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) reports. None of the affected municipalities have paid the $2.5 million ransom demanded.
On August 16, a coordinated ransomware campaign hit systems of cities and towns across Texas, prompting state officials to activate a task force consisting of the DIR, Texas A&M University System's Security Operations Center, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and emergency and military responders. By August 23, all affected entities had transitioned from assessment to remediation and recovery; now, more than half have resumed their normal operations.
The DIR is now scheduling follow-up visits with governments to ensure their rebuilding efforts are successful, according to an update the organization published late last week. It is unaware of ransom being paid by any of the 22 affected municipalities in the aftermath of the attack.
Ransom payments are a controversial topic among security professionals, most of whom disagree with paying attackers and fueling their motivation to launch future campaigns. Still, depending on the size of the attack and amount of money requested, ransom payments may amount to less than the cost of rebuilding networks from scratch — a burden that could potentially fall on taxpayers' shoulders, commented ImmuniWeb CEO Ilia Kolochenko.
"However, given that no human lives are at stake, in a long term prospective, such rigid tactics may well disincentivize the attackers," he said of the Texas attack. It's imperative governments have processes in place to handle incidents of this scale. Based on the DIR's latest update, it seems Texas had done sufficient preparation to avoid making a high ransom payment.
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