By Trey Rusk
By a doing a little research, I estimate that over 90% of Government offices, businesses and U.S. homes have the internet and use it in their daily operation. Banking, cable television, cell phones, gasoline pumps, surveillance cameras, security systems, thermostats, utilities and anything that has the word SMART in front of it depends on the internet to operate.
As I am writing this article, a total of 23 small Texas local governments have had ransom-ware inserted into their systems and their data is being held prisoner. That's just the ones that are reporting it. I also believe, but don't really know that some analyze the cost versus loss and have already paid these criminals. The payment demands are made through Bitcoin transactions and so far are untraceable.
As of now there have been no known hackings of Texas State Government computers.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called in the Texas Rangers, State Homeland Security, State Emergency Management, Department of Public Safety and their Federal counterparts to head these scoundrels off at the pass. This stuff is right out of the movies.
It is believed that the attacker is one entity. Politico printed that hackers are increasingly targeting the operators of vital infrastructure that cannot afford to ignore ransom demands and patiently scrub infected machines. Friday’s outbreak wasn’t the first in Texas, as ransomware has already hit jurisdictions including Potter County, Del Rio and Laredo.
These systems should have been pro-actively protected from allowing any unauthorized entry. Why would a government entity that I'm pretty darn sure will probably hold information that could harm people not be ready for an attack? The cost of constantly improving municipal internet system infrastructure is expensive. But the cost of fixing a break in that would cripple the utilities or 911 would be catastrophic. This year the Texas Legislature didn't fund a bill that would have helped communities with cyber threats.
Imagine if a tornado were to hit Amarillo and all public communications systems and utilities were shut down by a criminal hacker. What would you do?
Be prepared. Not just the cities, but the citizens. If you don't have emergency stores that could last at least one week, then you are foolish. It's coming. I believe that these ransom-ware criminals are testing and improving for a much larger strike. Will you be prepared?
That's the way I see it.