The North Texas Municipal Water District recently suffered a cybersecurity incident that disrupted its operations, including its phone system, The Record reported Tuesday.
A cybercrime group known as Daixin Team claimed responsibility for the attack and reportedly stole more than 33,000 files containing customer information from the water utility, which provides wholesale water, wastewater and solid waste management services to two million people across 13 cities in North Texas.
Alex Johnson, director of communications for North Texas Municipal Water District, told The Record, which first reported the incident, that the local government recently detected a cyberattack affecting its business computer network. Johnson did not provide a date for the attack when he confirmed details of the incident to StateScoop on Wednesday.
“Most of our business network has been restored. Our core water, wastewater, and solid waste services to our Member Cities and Customers have not been impacted by this incident, and we continue to provide those services as usual,” Johnson said.
On Nov. 12, the water utility warned customers that its phone lines were down. That warning is still on its website.
“Our phone system was also affected by this incident, and we hope to have it back online this week,” Johnson told The Record, adding that the North Texas water utility is working with third-party forensic specialists to investigate the cyberattack and the extent of any unauthorized activity.
The incident at North Texas Municipal Water District comes after an attack on a Pennsylvania water authority was hit with a cyberattack over the weekend that prompted workers to take equipment offline and use backup tools to maintain water pressure.
Ransomware groups have taken to targeting water utilities, which are classified as critical infrastructure, with the expectation that they’ll likely pay high-ticket ransoms to restore service. U.S. law enforcement agencies said ransomware groups hit five U.S. water and wastewater treatment facilities from 2019 to 2021.