City of Dallas Shirks Cybersecurity Questions

City of Dallas seal
City of Dallas Seal | Image by Harry Thomas Flower/Shutterstock

The City of Dallas has refused to specify the cause and magnitude of a cybersecurity incident it experienced this month.

The Dallas Open Records Unit told The Dallas Express on October 18 that it was experiencing delays in operations due to a cybersecurity incident. The office has not responded to requests for comment on when this incident occurred and what it entailed.

Dallas County announced Monday that it has been experiencing a cybersecurity incident of its own since October 19 — an act that a ransomware cybercrime organization known as “Play” took credit for. The County said Tuesday that it successfully defended against the breach attempt as it “effectively prevented any encryption of its files or systems.”

The City did not clarify whether its cybersecurity incident is linked to that of Dallas County, only that the County’s operational issue does not impact the City by extension.

“Dallas County’s cyber security incident is not affecting the City of Dallas,” Jennifer Brown, a communications official for the City, told The Dallas Express.

The City experienced a ransomware attack in May that led to 800,000 stolen files, as reported by The Dallas Express. The incident is under investigation. The City did not respond to questions on whether its May cybersecurity breach was connected to its October one.

A Dallas city official did say that the City’s ransomware attack in May was unrelated to the County’s confirmed October incident.

“There is no connection between the City’s May cyber security incident and the County’s incident this month,” Catherine Cuellar, a communications officer for the City, told The Dallas Express.

The initial notice from the City Open Records Unit on October 18 is the most expansive statement on its cybersecurity incident so far.

“Due to a cybersecurity incident, the City is experiencing service interruption and is working to restore services,” the office told The Dallas Express. “Additionally, various City departments are unable to access records, including information maintained solely in digital format, such as e-mails, and compliance with the request is not feasible at this time.”

Requests for additional details from the City have been met with little cooperation. The City has not released a public statement explaining the incident as Dallas County did Monday and Tuesday.

“Our foremost priority is the safety and security of our employees, the residents, and the public we serve,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Monday. “We have put in place stringent security protocols to safeguard our systems and data and are collaborating closely with our external cybersecurity specialists and law enforcement to address this situation.”

“Currently, there is no evidence of ongoing threat actor activity in our environment,” the County said Tuesday. “Given these measures and findings, it appears at this time that the incident has been successfully contained and that Dallas County’s systems are secure for use.”

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