Hackers are holding Texas government records hostage

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Ransomware attacks have been launched against at least 20 government agencies across Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The Texas Department of Information Resources posted information on Friday saying that is responding to the breach, with help from several other agencies, including Texas A&M University’s cyber-response center. The information agency didn’t say which government entities had been affected.

Newsweek has reported that ransomware has become a preferred extortion method. Hackers plant malicious code in outdated – and more susceptible – information systems and ask users to pay a ransom in untraceable cryptocurrency to regain control of their systems. Many small towns with older computer networks are particularly vulnerable. 

In the Panhandle, Potter County was hit by hackers in April. The county refused to pay the ransom and instead plans to spend at least $253,000 to rebuild databases lost in the attack. County Judge Nancy Tanner told ABC 7 that was still cheaper than paying the hackers. 

SonicWall, a network security firm based in Santa Clara, California, reported that ransomware attacks have grown exponentially since 2015. Bill Conner, the firm’s CEO, told the Morning News that ransomware has become “the wild, wild west of the cyber arms race.”

“Everyone knows that Texas is rapidly growing with new businesses, which means there are more companies to feed on,” he told the newspaper.

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