A ransomware cyberattack took down the systems of 23 local governments in Texas, reports Courthouse News Service. The Texas Department of Information Resources said the attack came Friday, with most of the targets being “small local” governments it did not identify. It said no statewide systems or networks were affected. “At this time, the evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one single threat actor,” the agency said. Ransomware is maliciously written programs that, when opened through email, can encrypt files on a system and allow hackers to extort money in exchange for unlocking the files.
The city of Riviera Beach, Fl., is paying $600,000 in bitcoin to ransomware hackers who took over its systems. Texas officials did not reveal the amounts of ransom demanded in Friday’s attack. The FBI says 1,493 ransomware attacks were reported nationwide last year, with victims paying $3.6 million to hackers. A recent Pew Research Center survey indicated Americans are more concerned about cyberattacks originating from other countries than they are about the Islamic State terrorist group or the North Korean government. The poll reported that 74 percent of the public rates foreign cyberattacks as a hazard, compared to 53 percent for ISIS and 53 percent for North Korea. Last month, California officials issued an audit concluding that 21 of 33 state agencies were at risk for hacks due to lax information technology protocols.