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Ransomware attack hits Travis Central Appraisal District, limiting services

The Travis Central Appraisal District was hit by hackers on Dec. 5.

A ransomware attack left the agency’s phone lines and online chat temporarily unavailable.

“We are working with the appropriate agencies to resolve this issue,” said TCAD Chief Appraiser Marya Crigler. “At this time, we do not have an estimate on how long it will take to restore our network.” 

The agency says the TCAD website and online property search are unaffected by this issue. District staff are also able to answer property-related questions and process homestead exemption applications, but response times may be delayed.

Property owners with questions about their property tax bills should contact the Travis County Tax Office. 

Travis County property owners who need to contact TCAD are asked to email csinfo@tcadcentral.org. Updates on this situation will be available on the TCAD website at www.traviscad.org.

What is a ransomware attack?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, that prevents you from accessing your computer files, systems, or networks and demands you pay a ransom for their return.

The FBI says you can unknowingly download ransomware onto a computer by opening an email attachment, clicking an ad, following a link, or even visiting a website that’s embedded with malware.

Most of the time, you don’t know your computer has been infected. The FBI says people often discover it when they can’t access their data or they get a message telling them about the attack and demanding payment.

How to prevent ransomware attacks

The FBI says malware distributors have gotten increasingly savvy, and you need to be careful about what you download and click on. 

Other tips include:

  • Keeping operating systems, software, and applications current and up to date.
  • Making sure anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and run regular scans.
  • Backing up data regularly and double-checking that those backups were completed.
  • Securing your backups. Make sure they are not connected to the computers and networks they are backing up.
  • Creating a continuity plan in case your business or organization is the victim of a ransomware attack.

If you are a victim of ransomware, contact your local FBI field office to request assistance, or submit a tip online.

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