DALLAS – For six days, a ransomware attack on the city of Dallas disabled the city’s computerized 911 dispatch system, leaving first responders to rely on a radio dispatch system.
For the first time since the attack, the city’s CIO spoke publicly, more or less, on Monday.
Director of Information Technology Bill Zielinski publicly briefed Dallas City Council members for the first time since the ransomware attack, but continued to decline our request for an interview about the massive breach.
With no press conferences since last Wednesday’s ransomware attack, we had hoped to be able to speak with Zielinski as he left the briefing with Dallas City Council members. However, security asked us to leave the corridor where he would exit the boardroom.
We wanted to ask Zielinski questions that have not been addressed by Dallas City Council members, such as the city is considering using tax dollars to pay ransom money to the hacker group known as Royal? How did the security breach happen in the first place? When will the city’s facilities be restored?
Zielinski told city council members there’s a lot he can’t say.
“The city cannot comment on specific details regarding the method or means of the attack, the mode of remediation, or potential communication with the party that launched the attack,” it said. “Doing so risks criminal investigations or the exposure of critical information that could be exploited by the attacker.”
The city of Dallas has been attacked by the ‘Royal’ ransomware gang, city services are still affected
Zielinski said the city is still in the process of restoring the city’s computer-assisted 911 dispatch system. He said the city is working to turn on the CAD devices in police cars and fire engines now.
Dallas Police and Fire Departments have used a backup radio system since the attack.
Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said connectivity needs to be restored as soon as possible and knows city personnel are working as hard as possible to do so.
“It’s been extremely difficult for our men and women. Again, they reach a level of expectation that our entire community should appreciate,” she said. “Technology isn’t foolproof. We’re still answering the call, putting our lives on the line.”
Zielinski also said he understands both Dallas Water Utility employees and customers and others have questions about whether information about their personal accounts may be exposed. He said they are continuing to monitor for any signs of data exfiltration and also monitor the dark web.
Zielinski said the city sees no signs of the data being compromised at this time. But if they find it, they will inform people directly.
Meanwhile, Zielinski said people should monitor their accounts for any suspicious activity.