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Tarrant Appraisal District hacked? Outside firm to determine | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

TARRANT COUNTY, Texas — The Tarrant Appraisal District (TAD) is turning over data to an outside technology firm, which will determine whether any taxpayer’s personal information was stolen in a possible breach. 

The district’s board of directors announced the move Sept. 18, during their first meeting since an internal investigation prompted the firing of IT director Cal Wood.  

The inquiry was centered on audio obtained by WFAA that raises questions about the cause of website problems users experienced in April and May. A whistleblower secretly recorded Wood telling staff he is “okay with creating a false narrative that distances the truth from the media.”

It’s not clear whether the district ever audited its own computer system to determine if it’d been hacked. 

“We asked that of (Wood) and he gave us an answer, but that’s come into question,” board chair Tony Pompa told WFAA. “I’m not sure what we know and what we don’t know at this time.”

“One set of staff says they think we were (hacked) and another set of staff thinks we weren’t,” Pompa continued. “We don’t really know for sure. That’s why our decision is to bring somebody from the outside to get in there, look at the data and information, and tell us unequivocally ‘Yes’ or ‘No.'”

Six days after Wood’s firing, TAD chief appraiser Jeff Law resigned. Law accepted the chief appraiser’s job in Hood County, where he worked prior to his stint at TAD. 

Board members unanimously accepted Law’s resignation as “warranted and essential.” 

The board also voted ‘no confidence’ in the ex-chief, though a majority of members did not vote on that motion. The three abstaining members contended it is not appropriate to declare lost confidence in an ex-employee, calling the move “Monday-morning quarterbacking.” 

“A vote of ‘no confidence’ in somebody who doesn’t work for you anymore seems futile, but it’s a statement that needs to be made still,” board secretary Rich DeOtte retorted. 

The motion technically passed, 2-0. DeOtte and Vince Puente were the lone yeas. Pompa, Jungus Jordan, and Joe Ralph Martinez abstained. 

The board also named William Durham, the district’s director of commercial appraisals, interim chief. Durham has over 35 years of appraisal experience, a press release said. 

“I will work hard and I’ll be transparent,” Durham told members Monday. 

TAD will hire a firm to help find a permanent chief in the coming months. 


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