Tarrant Appraisal District says it is victim of ransomware attack | #ransomware | #cybercrime

The Tarrant Appraisal District was the victim of a criminal ransomware attack, county officials told The Dallas Morning News Friday.

“Our investigation has confirmed that the Tarrant Appraisal District has been the victim of a criminal ransomware attack. We have reported this incident to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Texas Department of Information Resources and will cooperate with any resulting investigation,” a statement from the District reads.

It’s unclear what data may have been taken or how many residents may be affected. It’s also unclear how much the ransom may be. The Dallas Morning News will update this story once it receives responses from county officials.

The district experienced a “network disruption” that lasted a few hours on Thursday. Officials told the DMN that they took steps to secure the network and were working with independent cybersecurity experts to assess the incident.

The district launched its new website last week after a database error caused its old site to crash. Bobbitt told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last week that the district hired a third party to investigate the potential breach of taxpayer information.

The district was the victim of a cyberattack in 2022, but an investigation found no taxpayer information compromised.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation reported ransomware incidents were on the rise in 2023 with over 2,825 complaints reported. That’s an 18% increase from 2022. Reported losses rose 74%, from $34.3 million to $59.6 million.

Several entities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area have been affected by recent data security breaches.

Nearly 2,100 people were affected by a breach that included medical and health insurance information, addresses, and dates of birth at UT Southwestern Medical Center earlier this month.

In October, hackers with the cybercriminal group ‘Play’ accessed Dallas County’s network. While the county’s cybersecurity detected and kicked the hackers before they shut down the system, the group was able steal data — mostly criminal case information accessible through public records requests — and posted it on the dark web.

Last year, hackers with the group Royal targeted the city of Dallas, resulting in a data breach that affected more than 30,000 people. The City Council voted in August to set aside $8.6 million to pay vendors for hardware, software, incident response, and consulting services in response to the ransomware attack.

The Tarrant Appraisal District is responsible for property tax appraisal and exemption administration in Tarrant County.

“Our investigation is ongoing and we are working diligently with our retained experts to safely and securely restore operations,” the district said. “We have a meeting scheduled with our Board of Directors on Monday, March 25, 2024, and will provide an update following that meeting.”

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