Cyberattacks on Texas cities put other governments on guard

CHICAGO (AP) — Cyberattacks that recently crippled nearly two dozen Texas cities have put other local governments on guard.

The attacks offer the latest evidence that hackers can halt routine operations by locking up computers and demanding steep ransoms. Officials are increasingly turning to cybersecurity insurance to help safeguard against the growing threat.

Alan Shark of the Public Technology Institute says the ransom attacks have entered “an epidemic stage” and that the bad actors have been “emboldened.”

The attacks have the potential to set governments back decades. Libraries can’t use electronic checkout systems. Police can’t access electronic records, and utility bills must be paid with paper checks rather than online.

Protection is expensive, particularly for smaller cities whose employees may not be trained on the latest ransomware.