Dallas ransomware attack continues to affect city services 6 days later

For six days, a ransomware attack on the city of Dallas has left the city's 911 Computer Aided Dispatch system down, leaving first responders relying on a radio dispatch system. 

For the first time since the attack, the city's information technology director spoke publicly on Monday — sort of.

Information Technology Director Bill Zielinski briefed Dallas City Council members publicly for the first time since the ransomware attack, but he continued to decline our request for an interview about the massive breach.

With no news conferences since the ransomware attack last Wednesday, we hoped we would be able to talk with Zielinski as he left the briefing with Dallas City Council members. However, security asked us to leave the hallway where he would be exiting the council chambers. 


Dallas Animal Services crippled by city ransomware attack

Due to technical issues caused by the attack, Dallas Animal Services is urging the public to not surrender any animals right now unless it is an emergency. The assistant director says they need time to get a new paper system up and running.

We wanted to ask Zielinski questions that were not addressed by Dallas City Council members like is the city considering using tax dollars to pay ransom to the hacker group known as Royal? How did the security breach happen in the first place? When will the city's systems be restored?

Zielinski told city council members that there is a lot he can't say.

"The city cannot comment on specific details related to the method or means of the attack, the mode of remediation or potential communication with the party launching the attack," he said. "Doing so risks the criminal investigation or exposing critical information that could be exploited by the attacker."

City of Dallas attacked by ransomware gang 'Royal', city services still affected

Zielinski did say that the city is still in the process of restoring the city's 911 Computer Assisted Dispatch system. He said the city is working to now turn on the CAD devices in squad cars and fire engines.

Dallas police and fire have been using a backup radio system since the attack. 

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said they need to get connectivity back as soon as possible, and he knows city staff is working as hard as they can to do so. 

"It’s been extremely difficult for our men and women. Again, they rise to a level of expectations that our entire community should appreciate," he said. "Technology is not foolproof. We're still answering the call, putting our lives on the line."

Zielinski also said that he understands both employees and Dallas Water Utility customers and others have questions about if any of their personal account information has been exposed. He said they are continuing to monitor for any signs of data exfiltration and also monitoring the dark web. 

Zielinski said the city sees no signs of data being compromised at this time. But if they do find that, they will notify individuals directly. 

In the meantime, Zielinski said people should monitor their accounts for any suspicious activity.