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Problems Continue Even With Ransomware Attack Restoration Nearly Complete | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Most Dallas systems are up and running after a ransomware attack against the city about two months ago. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that locks people out of their computer data until they pay a ransom.

“Restoration is 97% complete,” Catherine Cuellar, a spokesperson for the city of Dallas, said in an emailed statement. “Our restoration process has prioritized public safety and public-facing services. The remaining services to be restored are internal.”

The attack is still causing some problems in Dallas.

In a memo to City Council, Majed Al-Ghafry, assistant city manager, said the development services department was seeing some IT connectivity issues. This and the ransomware attack affected city staff’s ability to access internal shared drives and zoning maps that they use in the plan review process. These permits are for activities like reroofing, fencing, foundation repairs and demolitions.

“These limitations caused major delays in the issuance of permits,” Al-Ghafry said in the memo.

The zoning maps were restored in a limited capacity by June 27, but by the end of the month there were still some 870 permits waiting to be approved. “The team is progressively working to meet pre-ransomware permitting performance goals,” Al-Ghafry said in the memo. 

“All the important parts are back up.” – Jim McDade, Dallas Fire Fighters Association

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The city will be spending big money to try to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. On June 28, the Dallas City Council approved nearly $4 million for a Houston-based company called Netsync Network Solutions to install and maintain a threat and anomaly detection system for the IT department. According to city documents, the new system should protect “the city’s network and systems against internal and external cyber threats to the organization including potential ransomware.”

The group behind the attack is called Royal, which also took down the Dallas Central Appraisal District website for weeks after a separate attack in November.

After the attack against Dallas, which began on May 3, the city worked to contain it but several city services were disrupted. 311 service requests were delayed, courts were closed and Dallas Water Utilities was unable to accept payments. The city couldn’t process applications or payments for zoning, public works, permitting or development services.

The hack also affected Dallas police operations, forcing some automated tasks to be done manually and shutting down the department’s website. The department’s crime dashboard, which tracks crime in the city, was also offline until just recently.

The attack had similar results on Dallas-Fire Rescue, leading the department to rely on manual dispatching and radio communications. Now, Jim McDade, president of the Dallas Fire Fighters Association, says those issues have been rectified. “All the important parts are back up,” McDade said.

In the aftermath of the attack, The Dallas Morning News reported that some court cases were being affected. Just days after the hack, a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict in a murder trial when police couldn’t produce some evidence. The following week, a man was found guilty even though evidence wasn’t available to jurors or lawyers, according to the News.

Sean McCaffity, an attorney representing the family of Kyle Vess in a suit against the city and Brad Cox, a former DFR paramedic, alleging excessive force, said the ransomware attack has slowed the evidence discovery process in the case. “We hope to have everything soon though,” he said.

“They can’t seem to locate records that we need for court,” LaNae Vess, Kyle Vess’ mother said. “I swear, I think this will never get resolved.”


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National Cyber Security