TEXARKANA, USA—On Sunday, December 6, 2020, the Texarkana Water Utility’s Information Technology Department noticed suspicious activity on the network that serves Bowie County, and the Cities of Texarkana, Arkansas, and Texarkana, Texas. While this is still a developing situation, there are a few facts that can be confirmed:
- The network serving these entities was attacked by ransomware.
- It is unknown how long the ransomware was on the network before it was detected, but it has been confirmed that it existed prior to Thursday, November 26, 2020.
- There was a data incident, but at this time there is no evidence that personal information has been compromised.
- There will not be an interruption to water services as a result of this event.
- There is an ongoing investigation into this matter, and to protect the integrity of that process, some information will not be released at this time.
- The process of repairing PCs and systems is ongoing. The scope of this event is not yet understood.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware typically spreads through phishing emails or by a victim unknowingly visiting an infected website. Often ransomware will show instructions for how to pay a fee and obtain a decryption or access key. Typical costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands. Often the demand is for payment in Bitcoin or some other form of cyber currency. It is not advised by law enforcement to pay the ransom, but instead, obtain assistance in having the ransomware removed.