The City of Dallas, Texas, is currently experiencing a ransomware attack that has disrupted key services, including the 911 dispatch system. According to city officials, several servers have been compromised with ransomware, leading to widespread service outages. The Dallas Police Department website is currently offline, and the city website is displaying a message informing users of a service outage and assuring them that the city is working to restore services.
The attack has impacted Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems, which are used by dispatchers and 911 operators to prioritize and record incident calls. Melinda Gutierrez, a spokesperson for the Dallas Police Department, confirmed to TechCrunch that the outage has affected the CAD systems, which has forced 911 call takers to manually write down instructions for responding officers.
As a result of the attack, all courts were closed on Wednesday, and they will remain closed on Thursday. The city has also advised residents to contact emergency services only in true emergencies and to use non-emergency lines for all other inquiries. Christine Gadsby, VP Product Security, BlackBerry said:
"This incident underscores the fact that cybercrime puts every organization, government, and critical infrastructure at risk. As an industry, we must deliver a prevention-first strategy in defending against ransomware for these critical life-saving services in our local cities.
Governments are starting to take the threat of ransomware very seriously, and with good reason. Cyberattacks can shut down critical infrastructure or services, bringing these critical service organizations to their knees
Responding to incidents like this with transparency and establishing information-sharing protocols will give governments and organizations the best chance of protecting themselves against ransomware threats and void the high costs of downtime and ransomware payments. The more we collectively understand about the nature of individual attacks, the better we can identify patterns and profile threat actors."
Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common, with cybercriminals using this type of attack to encrypt files and hold them for ransom. These attacks can cause significant disruption and financial losses for businesses and government organizations, with the cost of ransomware attacks estimated to be in the billions of dollars.
The City of Dallas has not yet released any details regarding the source of the attack or the ransom demands made by the cybercriminals. The incident highlights the importance of having robust cybersecurity measures in place to prevent and mitigate the impact of cyber attacks. Cybersecurity experts advise organizations to have a backup and recovery plan in place, to regularly update software and security protocols, and to provide regular cybersecurity training to employees.
The City of Dallas is currently working to restore services and investigating the attack. The incident serves as a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity and the need for organizations to remain vigilant in the face of increasing cyber threats.