This summer, two Florida cities authorized their insurers to shell out almost a million dollars to placate attackers. The leaders of Riviera Beach, Fla., approved the payment of nearly $600,000. And officials in Lake City, Fla., eventually agreed to paying $460,000 after the city’s computer systems were paralyzed for several days.
“With your heart, you really don’t want to pay these guys,” Mayor Stephen Witt of Lake City said at the time. “But, dollars and cents, representing the citizens, that was the right thing to do.”
Several state and federal agencies are responding to the attack on the 22 Texas towns, including cybersecurity experts at the F.B.I., the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Texas Military Department. The state’s computer systems and networks were not affected.
Two cybersecurity teams from the Texas A&M University System are involved in the state response. Mark Stone, the chief information officer for the A&M system, said he and others were taking the attack seriously. The system, which includes 11 universities, blocks ransomware attacks daily.
“Our security operations center is fending off attacks in the terms of millions every month, and many of those are attempted ransomware,” Mr. Stone said. “We recognize that no matter what we do and how much money we put in, that we will always be a target, and we can’t ever drop our vigilance.”
As a precaution, officials in some small Texas cities and counties have been shutting down parts of their online systems even though they were not one of the affected towns. Two local governments north of Dallas at the Oklahoma state line, Grayson County and the City of Denison, took some of their systems offline.
In a statement, Denison officials said Monday that they were temporarily disconnecting their information systems from the internet. The city’s website, phone service and 911 system remained operational, but officials were not accepting credit-card payments for bills during the outage and city staff had little or no access to emails.