Ransomware attackers demand $700,000 from Tarrant Appraisal District | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

Ransomware attackers who have taken control of the Tarrant Appraisal District website have demanded $700,000, the district announced Monday.

The attackers have threatened to release “sensitive” information if their demands are not met, but the district does not know if they actually have any information, said Lindsay B. Nickle, a cybersecurity attorney hired by the district. The district said it is weighing its options, but does not want to pay, Nickle said.

Board members were meeting in a closed session about the matter Monday afternoon.

The site has not worked since the attack on Thursday, the second time it crashed in two weeks. TAD’s email and phone lines are still down.

After the initial crash on March 14 — which the district blamed on a “database failure” — the district rolled out its new website ahead of its planned launch.

The Tarrant Appraisal District did not answer an inquiry about whether it has paid or negotiated with those responsible for the attack.

Security issues and website crashes are nothing new to the Tarrant Appraisal District.

In October 2022, a cyberattack exposed taxpayer data, though none of it was compromised, according to a report released March 1.

In April 2023, its website crashed after appraisal notices were sent to property owners, who for weeks were unable to protest their values online.

That began months of turmoil for the district, including the resignation of the chief appraiser, who stepped down after the Star-Telegram exposed comments made by an agency senior manager suggesting TAD lie to the public about problems with its website.

On Friday Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare told the Star-Telegram in a statement he is “hopeful” new chief appraiser Joe Don Bobbitt and the new board would resolve the security situation as well “other problems caused by the previous regime at TAD.”

On Friday, board members Rich De’Otte and Alan Blaylock both voiced confidence in Bobbitt.

The district sets property appraisals and administers exemptions for tax purposes.


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