Ransomware attack paralyzes 23 computer systems in Texas

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Authorities are examining a new ransomware attack in Texas that has taken almost two dozen government agencies offline - the latest in a string of digital hijackings against municipalities nationwide in recent months. The agency declined to share speculation on who might be responsible, citing an ongoing federal investigation.

"It appears all entities that were actually or potentially impacted have been identified and notified", DIR said.

The identities of the affected agencies weren't revealed, nor was the size of the ransom, but authorities said systems operated by the state of Texas weren't affected. The state is deploying cybersecurity experts to assist the affected towns, CNBC reports.

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The DIR is being assisted by numerous federal and state agencies in the investigation, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI's cyber division, and the Texas Department of Public Safety's Computer Information Technology and Electronic Crimes (CITEC) unit.

"We haven't seen this kind of coordinated ransomware attack against municipalities before". Atlanta reportedly spent $2.6 million to respond to a ransomware attack last year, and an attack on Baltimore city systems earlier this year was estimated to cost the city $18 million in cleanup costs and lost revenue. An additional $5 million of ransomware expenses are expected to be unreported, the DIR said. The designation means the emergency is beyond the scope of local responders.

"At this time, the evidence gathered indicates the attacks came from one single threat actor", the department said in a followup statement on Saturday. Hackers paralyzed government computers in Albany, New York, in April. Insurance picked up virtually the entire ransom payment in both municipalities.

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