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Travis County Appraisal District's Computer System Is Back Up After Ransomware Attack

The Travis County Appraisal District's website
Julia Reihs
The Travis County Appraisal District's website was down for about a week because of a cyberattack.

The Travis County Appraisal District said its computer systems were hacked Sept. 11 in a ransomware attack, but there's no evidence any data from appraisals was compromised. The district said it didn't pay any money to the attackers. 

Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler said in a statement today that the day-to-day operations of the district – including appraisal protests and customer service requests from property owners – haven't been affected. She said the district and law enforcement haven't yet identified who initiated the attack.

"Confidential property owner information was not at risk during this incident. As of September 19, 2019, all core systems have been fully restored," she said. "We continue to restore secondary computer systems and work with cyber security experts and state agencies to identify the parties responsible for the cyber-attack."

TCAD said the attackers intended to "encrypt and lock district files to hold them hostage for ransom," but that redundancies, including an off-site data storage site, prevented hackers from accessing its servers. Still, the attempt stalled those services.

The hack comes after similar high-profile ransomware attacks in August on nearly two dozen local governments in Texas. The Texas Department of Information Resources said it believed those 22 attacks were instigated by a "single threat actor," though it wouldn't say which municipalities were affected. All those local governments returned to normal within a week after the attacks.

TCAD said it couldn't say whether the attack on its system was related, but did say the hack bore similarities.

"While the District cannot say what variant of ransomware the other local government entities were infected with, the two incidents are similar in that they are both ransomware attacks on local government entities [where] funds were demanded for a decryption key to release the government data," it said.

Andrew Weber is a general assignment reporter for KUT, focusing on criminal justice, policing, courts and homelessness in Austin and Travis County. Got a tip? You can email him at Follow him on Twitter @England_Weber.
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