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Tomball experiences ransomware attack; council authorizes city manager to spend money for recovery of city systems, data | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


During an emergency City Council meeting Dec. 30, Tomball City Council unanimously authorized City Manager David Esquivel to spend the necessary funds for the recovery of city systems and data following a ransomware attack.

Esquivel said the cost for the recovery of city systems and data is projected to be over $50,000.

“That’s why the authorization was asked for today because we know it’s going to be over $50,000,” Esquivel said in an interview following the emergency meeting.

The ransomware attack took place on the morning of Dec. 20 and affected a majority of the city’s networks, according to a Dec. 30 news release provided by the city.

Esquivel said the interruption in certain services was first noticed by the police department.

“Trying to reestablish some of those things that were not working [is when] we noticed that there was an issue,” Esquivel said.

Emergency services such as 9-1-1, dispatch, police, fire and public works are still operational but there are ongoing issues with the city’s online payment systems. The city is waiving all late fees for utility bills due Dec. 30 as a result, according to the news release.

The city is working with outside law enforcement, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the attack, according to the news release.

“That was the next step,” Esquivel said about notifying outside agencies. “Once we saw that it was that type of issue that we were dealing with, that was the first response because, at that point, it’s an outside attack into our systems so that’s standard protocol.”

The city does not have a timeline for when services and systems will be fully restored, according to the news release.

“It’s going to be one of those [things] where not everything comes back all at once,” Esquivel said. “It’s going to come in stages.”

Esquivel said he cannot comment on whether utility customers’ passwords or credit card information was compromised.

“Getting the network back up is going to be the crucial piece to get that connectivity,” Esquivel said. “Once we have that, getting the software back up and running and different servers and stuff like that—it will come online, we’re projecting, fairly quickly as soon as we have that connection.”

For emergencies, residents should call 9-1-1. For utility services, residents should call 281-290-1401. For general services, residents should call 281-351-5484.

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