More Than 20 Government Entities in Texas Breached By Statewide Ransomware Attack
Texas state officials reported on Friday, August 16th, that at least 20 government agencies throughout Texas were breached. The State is deploying resources to those jurisdictions most seriously impacted, although they didn’t specify where they were due to security reasons.
With assistance from the Texas Military Department and Texas A&M’s Cyberresponse and Security Operations Center, the State’s Department of Information Resources is leading the response to the breach, assisted by the Division of Emergency Management.
“Local jurisdictions who have been impacted should contact their local TDEM Disaster District Coordinator,” the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) advised in its statement, adding: “DIR is fully committed to respond swiftly to this event and provide the necessary resources to bring these entities back online…Currently, DIR, the Texas Military Department, and the Texas A&M University System’s Cyberresponse and Security Operations Center teams are deploying resources to the most critically impacted jurisdictions. Further resources will be deployed as they are requested.”
Ransomware Has Hit Other Government Entities This Year
The State of Texas hasn’t reported how much of a ransom is being requested. However, based on what other state governments have had to pay, it could be quite high.
Others states like Florida, Maryland and Georgia were affected by ransomware this year, having to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars and losing millions. A Florida city agreed to pay ransomware hackers $600,000 to unlock its data, and a ransomware attack on Baltimore cost the City more than $18 million. The City of Atlanta authorized spending $2.7 million to restore their computer systems after a ransomware attack.
Local government agencies and the public sector have been targeted this year. Hackers know that they function under tight budgets and can’t always afford to upgrade their cybersecurity solutions. However, with ransomware becoming commonplace, governments must shore up their cybersecurity profiles to prevent being victimized.
What’s The Best Way To Prevent Ransomware Attacks?
In most ransomware attacks, an unsuspecting employee clicks on an email attachment that appears to be an official document. The attachment installs a malicious software program (malware) onto the computer system. Once embedded, it allows a hacker to access critical systems.
The best way to keep your data safe is to have it backed up to a separate location, on a regular basis. By storing a complete and up-to-date copy of your data that’s separate from your local systems, it doesn’t matter if your onsite data gets encrypted by ransomware. You can simply wipe it all and recover your data from the backup.
Cybersecurity Training for employees can reduce the risk of having your sensitive information fall prey to a costly cyberattack. When it comes to protecting sensitive information, it’s time to get proactive and train your employees to recognize and deal with cyber threats. This also helps them remain compliant with current government protocols.
Here are 5 ways that you can ensure each of your employees can keep your information safe:
- Implement an Annual Security Evaluation to identify which policies and procedures are exposed to attacks.
- Annually train current staff so they stay compliant with standard protocols.
- Provide new staff with onboarding training.
- Keep employees up to date on changes to government policies as they occur.
- Make sure complex regulations are easy to understand so you can stay compliant.
Stealthy cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever at their craft. They’re targeting your valuable information at the most accessible source (your employees). Take action and engage IT professionals to deploy the systems, tools and training that will keep you safe.