Ransomware Hamstrings Appraisal District


Dallas Central Appraisal District | Image by FOX 4

The Dallas Central Appraisal District (DCAD) told the city it is still more than a week away from launching a new but limited website as it struggles to regain control of its systems after a ransomware attack last month.

The DCAD is responsible for appraising property in Dallas County for tax purposes and publishing the data, but the ransomware attack on November 8 significantly disrupted the DCAD’s computer system, servers, email, and website, as previously reported by The Dallas Express

While resident data was already public, some private employee information was compromised.

Cheryl Jordan, the DCAD director of community relations, said the district hopes to have its system issues resolved in a couple more weeks, according to Fox 4 News.

The DCAD had completed the majority of its work for the year. However, the continued delay caused by the hack may delay tax bills for thousands of property owners in the county.

Jordan said this is due to the entire system being shut down.

The Travis Central Appraisal District (TCAD) was also struck by a ransomware attack, on December 5. The agency’s phone lines and online chat are currently down, while the website and online property search ability are unaffected by the attack.

Property tax bills and payments with the Travis County Tax Office were also unaffected.

“We are working with the appropriate agencies to resolve this issue,” said TCAD Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler in a press release. “At this time, we do not have an estimate on how long it will take to restore our network,” she continued.

Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu, the director of UT Dallas’ data security and privacy lab, said it is essential for government agencies to be prepared for attacks like these.

Every city that does not have a ransomware plan now “should have a ransomware recovery plan in place by tomorrow,” said Kantarcioglu.

Homestead exemption forms are unavailable to Dallas residents at present, but homeowners still have two years to file. The DCAD will mail these forms in January 2023.

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