Watch CBS News

Ransomware attack hampering Dallas police operations

Hackers threaten City of Dallas with releasing critical data
Hackers threaten City of Dallas with releasing critical data 03:05

DALLAS ( -- The City of Dallas confirmed that a ransomware attack compromised a number of servers in its system, including the Dallas Police Department's website.

Late Monday morning, CBS News Texas' J.D. Miles reported that the outage impacted the department's computer assisted dispatch system, called CAD, which directs police to emergencies and other calls. 

The issue forced 911 call takers to manually write down instructions for the responding officers, who were only able to respond through their phones and radios.

CBS News Texas obtained an image the ransomware note. The hackers, a group called Royal, claim that they encrypted the city's critical data, and threatened to post sensitive information online.

An image of the ransomware note received by the City of Dallas J.D. Miles/CBS News Texas

Cyber security threat analyst Brett Callow says Royal is one of the most active cyber terrorist groups and has been responsible for as much as 10% of all U.S. ransomware attacks including one last month that targeted Lake Dallas ISD. 

There have been 29 reported cyber attacks on local governments this year and Callow says they can, at times, even put lives at risk. 

"In one instance after an attack on a police department, the ransomware gang threatened to release details about police informants to the criminal organizations on which they were informing," Callow said.

Cyber experts believe the attack probably began with a phishing email that an unsuspecting employee opened. 

"An employee will click on that, and once they do that, it will take them out and their information, and share that with the hackers," said Matt Yarbrough, a cyber security expert. "That's why it's so important for employees to train on this today."

Here's how to protect yourself from hackers 01:17
View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.