Dec 7, 2022 - News

Texas appraisal districts hit by ransomware attacks

Illustration of a mouse in a bear trap

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Dallas Central Appraisal District's online functions remain down a month after a ransomware attack shut down its email, website and servers.  

Driving the news: The Travis Central Appraisal District was hit with a separate ransomware attack that shut down an online chat and phone lines this week, per the Austin American-Statesman.

  • Unlike in Dallas, the Travis County attack didn't affect property tax bills or the appraisal district's website. 

Why it matters: Federal government officials have called ransomware a worsening problem. The Treasury Department reported last month that payments to ransomware gangs have skyrocketed, totaling an estimated $1.2 billion in 2021.

Catch up fast: The DCAD ransomware attack occurred Nov. 8 and has caused tax bill delays for thousands of property owners in Dallas County.

  • County officials reported the attack the next day to the City of Dallas IT department, which reviewed the city's servers and updated firewalls, per a memo. The city's systems were unaffected.

Flashback: Other local government agencies have been hit by ransomware attacks, including a cyberattack to the Mansfield school district's website, email and phone systems earlier this year, per FOX4

  • More than two dozen Texas school districts — including many in the Dallas area — were targeted by ransomware attacks between 2019 and 2021, per a WFAA investigation
  • In 2019, federal officials charged a Russian national accused of running attacks on 23 Texas businesses and government entities, none of which paid the ransom.

What's next: A limited DCAD website is expected to launch Dec. 14, giving the public access to some searches and forms. 

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