The number of malware attacks on US municipalities continues to increase. Particularly in the past few weeks, things have escalated rather quickly. In Texas, nearly two dozen towns have been hit by a well-coordinated ransomware attack. It appears one person is responsible for this activity, although the investigation is still ongoing.
The US Remain a Crucial Target
Most people on this planet know how devastating a ransomware attack can be. For consumers, it forces them to either pay a sum of money or risk losing important computer data. In the case of corporations or even municipalities, the consequences are a lot more severe. If left unchecked, malware can cause a lot of havoc on a pretty large scale. This is the threat 23 Texas towns are facing at this time.
Local sources confirm all of these towns are dealing with one and the same coordinated ransomware attack. Of the targets, most of them are specific departments. Which departments or towns have been affected by this particular wave of malware, has not been confirmed at this time. Not disclosing this information should keep the victims safe from dealing with future attacks, at least for the time being.
There are several ways to deal with such an attack. Affected municipalities can try to pay the Bitcoiin ransom and hope for the best. Another option is to forcefully clean all infected computers and restore data backups. Depending on when those backups were taken, the loss of data will be either minimal or problematic. Given how most municipalities deal with data backups, it seems safe to assume this will not be the favorable option in terms of data retention.
As far as the culprit behind this attack is concerned, there is very little information to go by. The Texas Department of Information Resources claims this entire attack is orchestrated by one criminal. Successfully pulling off such a large-scale attack is not straightforward by any means. It is possible that one person is responsible for all of this, although the investigation is still ongoing. More often than not, the ones responsible for these problems will never be caught.
There are also a lot of questions regarding the severity of this attack. It is unclear what the attacker(s) want to achieve by openly attacking these towns and departments. Making a statement is one train of thought, although that is mere conjecture at this point. Such a coordinated attack could also serve as ‘test’ for bigger and better – or worse – things to come across the United States.
One peculiar trend is how culprits are purposefully attacking city governments as of late. It is not the first time such a large-scale attack hits the United States. Earlier this year, similar attacks were recorded across various states. Most of these issues have been resolved without any funds changing hands along the way. That doesn’t mean criminals will suddenly stop attacking such potentially lucrative targets, though. It is all too easy to cause havoc with ransomware, by the look of things.