Brooks County is a portion of the Rio Grande Plains area of Corpus Cristi, Texas. It was founded in 1911 and has just under 10,000 residents.
Brooks County, located in Corpus Christi, Texas, recently paid a ransomware hacker's ransom request with taxpayer dollars. Let's look at the nuances of this digital intrusion and the somewhat controversial decision to pay the requested ransom in full.
The breach appears to be partially the result of employee negligence. A seemingly careless employee opened an email and clicked a link that empowered the hacker to access the County's network and computers.
This breach occurred in June 2022.
The breach impacts Brooks County, the locale's taxpayers, and future targets likely to succumb to similar ransomware requests as a precedent has been set. If all organizations across the globe united together, agreeing to refuse all ransomware payment requests, such attacks would no longer lead to a financial incentive. Though such unity might never be achieved on a mass scale, you are empowered to enhance your protection against identity theft and other forms of online aggression with regular digital security updates.
It appears as though hackers accessed the entirety of the County’s systems, including court-related information in the attack. Though the vast majority of the County data was backed up, the data from the auditor’s office was not backed up, meaning it would have been lost in its entirety if the County leaders could not reach an agreement with the ransomware attackers.
In total, the ransomware payment amounted to just under $40,000, serving as a massive financial setback for the hardworking taxpayers of Brooks County. The only silver lining to the breach is the fact that the initial ransom request was $93,000, a figure that represents more than two times the sum actually paid to retrieve the stolen data and restore system access.