Dallas City Services Disrupted in Ransomware Attack
The city of Dallas is reeling from a ransomware attack that has resulted in widespread disruption of services. The attack was likely initiated on Wednesday afternoon, according to city officials, with the Royal ransomware group being identified as the source. Despite efforts by the Information and Technology Services Department to isolate the attack and contain its impact, the city has seen disruption across multiple departments, including 311 service requests, court closures, and delayed responses from code compliance services.
The city’s ability to process payments has also been severely affected, with Dallas Water Utilities being unable to process payments and development services, permitting, public works or zoning being unable to receive applications or payments. Permits across the departments can’t be issued at the moment, adding further complications. The city’s code compliance services department is also seeing delayed responses and is unable to process single-family and multi-tenant registrations, and permitting services are only possible in-person at 3112 Canton St.
Although the city is experiencing a significant impact on its operations, Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax reiterated that the Dallas City Council elections this weekend would not be canceled. He acknowledged that the police department and Dallas Fire-Rescue have been hit particularly hard, with manual dispatching and radio communication being relied upon by the latter until all systems can be brought back online.
Furthermore, the hack has resulted in the Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia stating that it has “significantly impacted” the department’s operations, with some of the more automated tasks being done manually. The police department’s website is also unavailable, adding to the sense of disruption.
The Royal ransomware group has hit numerous organizations globally, with the same method of using custom-made file encryption programs to lock the systems until ransoms are paid. The FBI and US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have been warning since March this year about the group’s attacks. Healthcare organizations to manufacturing firms have been targeted, with ransom demands between $1 million to $11 million in Bitcoin being paid.
The city of Dallas has been posting frequent updates on the situation on dallascitynews.net while its websites remain offline. Nevertheless, the attack is a reminder of how vulnerable public organizations are to ransomware attacks that can severely impact services and affect thousands of residents in the process.