City of Dallas shut down IT services after ransomware attack

The City of Dallas, Texas, was hit by a ransomware attack that forced it to shut down some of its IT systems.

The IT systems at the City of Dallas, Texas, have been targeted by a ransomware attack. To prevent the threat from spreading within the network, the City has shut down the impacted IT systems.

The City confirmed the security incident and is working to recover from the ransomware attack that impacted its services, including the police department.

“Wednesday morning, the City’s security monitoring tools notified our Security Operations Center (SOC) that a likely ransomware attack had been launched within our environment,” reads the statement released by the City. “Subsequently, the City has confirmed that a number of servers have been compromised with ransomware, impacting several functional areas, including the Dallas Police Department Website,” “The City team, along with its vendors, are actively working to isolate the ransomware to prevent its spread, to remove the ransomware from infected servers, and to restore any services currently impacted. The Mayor and City Council was notified of the incident pursuant to the City’s Incident Response Plan (IRP).”

The attack impacted less than 200 devices and essential operations, like 911, remained working. 

“We have learned the attack’s biggest impact is likely at the Dallas Police Department.” reported the website of Fox4News. “The department had reverted to its backup system, radio, to dispatch officers in response to 911 calls instead of its computer assisted dispatch system. DPD says there is no issue or delay with 911 calls coming in or being dispatched.”

BleepingComputer reported that the City’s court system canceled all jury trials and jury duty from May 2nd into today. The incident may cause delays for online payment processing operated by Dallas Water Utilities.

The City is investigating the scope of the incident with the help of law enforcement, at this time has yet to disclose details on the incident, including the ransomware family that hit its systems and if there is a data breach.

However, CBS News Texas obtained an image the ransomware note dropped by the malware on the infected systems.

City of Dallas An image of the ransomware note received by the City of Dallas. Source J.D. MILES/CBS NEWS TEXASThe Royal ransomware group is behind the attack and threatens to publish stolen data if the City will not meet its ransom demand.

The human-operated Royal ransomware first appeared on the threat landscape in September 2022, it has demanded ransoms up to millions of dollars.

Unlike other ransomware operations, Royal doesn’t offer Ransomware-as-a-Service, it appears to be a private group without a network of affiliates.

Once compromised a victim’s network, threat actors deploy the post-exploitation tool Cobalt Strike to maintain persistence and perform lateral movements.

The Royal ransomware is written in C++, it infected Windows systems and deletes all Volume Shadow Copies to prevent data recovery. The ransomware encrypts the network shares, that are found on the local network and the local drives, with the AES algorithm

In March, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released a joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) to provide organizations, tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) and indicators of compromise (IOCs) associated with this ransomware family.

According to government experts, the Royal ransomware attacks targeted numerous critical infrastructure sectors including, manufacturing, communications, healthcare and public healthcare (HPH), and education.

“FBI and CISA believe this variant, which uses its own custom-made file encryption program, evolved from earlier iterations that used “Zeon” as a loader.” reads the alert. “After gaining access to victims’ networks, Royal actors disable antivirus software and exfiltrate large amounts of data before ultimately deploying the ransomware and encrypting the systems.”

Royal operators have demanded ransom ranging from approximately $1 million to $11 million USD worth of Bitcoin.

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(SecurityAffairs – hacking, ransomware)
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