Dallas’ head of information technology says the city has almost fully restored its system after a ransomware attack four weeks ago.
Chief Information Officer Bill Zielinski told The Dallas Morning News that the city estimates being “more than 90% complete” in restoring IT systems and services since the cyberattack.
“Following the initial attack on May 3, the city has worked with its cyber response vendors and IT service providers to review, clean, rebuild and restore city computers and servers to normal operations,” he said.
Zielinski didn’t give a timeline on when the system would be fully restored. The city in mid-May said the recovery process could take several more weeks or months to complete.
The scope of the attack, the amount of work the city has done, and what’s left is still unclear as of Thursday. City officials have cited the criminal investigation as the main reason to not fully explain the incident, and Dallas’ communications director emailed the mayor and City Council members Wednesday urging them to stick to telling inquiring residents and media that an investigation is ongoing and that updates will be shared “as appropriate.”
Ransomware is often used to extort money from organizations by threatening to block access to files or release confidential information unless money is paid. The city hasn’t given any information about a potential ransom and has maintained that there is no evidence any personal information from employees or residents have been leaked.
Royal, the group suspected to be behind the cyberattack, on May 19 threatened to publicly release data stored by the municipal government. It doesn’t appear that has happened as of Thursday.
The city said several servers were compromised with ransomware early May 3 and that it intentionally took others offline to prevent the bad software from spreading. It led to several departments being hampered and some city services being unavailable, such as residents being unable to pay their water bills online or not being able to report non-emergency complaints via the city’s 311 app.
Catherine Cuellar, the city’s communications director, told The News on Wednesday that the city has made strides in getting systems back up for several departments, including police, fire, water and 311. She also said city officials have developed workarounds so the library and animal services can still serve the public as their systems are being restored.
She said the city is adding more cybersecurity software, resetting city user accounts and rebuilding impacted systems.