Ransomware Still Attacking Dallas City Government

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The City of Dallas is still in the midst of a ransomware attack Monday as officials worked to bring computer service back to all city functions.

Some website access was restored but crucial public safety functions like police and fire computer-aided dispatch were still impacted.

“One of my first contacts was how much they were beat down this weekend because of all the backed-up calls,” Black Police Association of Greater Dallas President Terrance Hopkins said.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia shared body camera video Monday from officers who wounded a man early Saturday morning after the man threatened people and refused to drop a gun. The body camera video showed blank patrol car computer screens where officers would normally see information about a call for service.

“Certainly it’s impacted us. It’s impacted us and DFR quite a bit, but the men and women continue to answer the call,” Garcia said.

Computer-aided dispatch at the 911 communications center had been down since Wednesday.

“It figures out what the closest appropriate resource is and automatically dispatches that,” Dallas Firefighters Association President Jim McDade said.

Without that, McDade said he’s heard about ambulance calls delayed by 30 minutes for life-and-death situations like heart attack calls.

“Calls are not being answered in our normal timely manner,” he said.

The Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee Monday received a briefing on the situation from Dallas Chief Information Officer Bill Zielenski.

Some of it was presented in pubic, but Zielenski declined to discuss the means of attack, the mode of remediation or communication with attackers because criminal investigations are underway.

“Doing so risks impeding investigations or exposing critical information,” Zielenski said.

He said the ransomware is believed to be contained but every piece of the city network equipment must be reimaged to be certain no corruption remains.

Zielenski saved more of the discussion for a closed-door executive session with council members. There was no public mention of any ransom request or payment.

“This event underscores the need for our city to address the long standing underinvestment in IT and possibly even look at how we structure IT,” City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said.

Water bill payments and code enforcement response to 311 calls were delayed.

Dallas municipal court remained closed. Deadlines there will be extended.

The firefighters’ leader said separating public safety from all the rest of that was recommended over a year ago.

“Take all of the public safety part of it, of our IT system, and split it off into its own network, its own system. That was never done,” McDade said.

Hopkins said the threat to public safety must be corrected.

“That’s something that’s got to be major importance over at city hall to where we get this system protected,” he said. “Everything is automated now so we’re communicating with every other law enforcement agency by way of these networks.”

Garcia said Dallas Police offered assistance to the City of Allen after the mass shooting there Saturday. Garcia said Dallas could still have been helpful despite the computer problems but Garcia said the help was not required.

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