EDCOUCH, Texas — A hacker gains access to the city of Edcouch and threatens to erase all the city’s information if officials did not deposit $40,000 in Bitcoins; a form of electronic cash. Information from the water department and city finances were compromised in the attack. The city manager says this comes just after the former city manager was arrested for allegedly tampering with water meters. Homeland Security is investigating the cyber attack after information of more than 3,000 residents was stolen.
Victor De La Cruz, Edcouch City Manager says, “On Monday morning, when we came in, we found a ransom note where our system had been hacked and basically the ransom note gave us some instructions to follow if we wanted to save our data.“
He says this comes after City Hall’s phone system was down Saturday night. A system connected to the computer network with access to thousands of confidential files. “Basically all the information that it takes to run a municipality. Finances, the water department which seems to be the most damaged.“ says De La Cruz.
The recent arrest of the former city manager in connection to theft within the water department and previous charges for Tampering with Government Records has now sparked interest in the investigation.
“In recent investigations we have been investigating issues with water meters and that sort of thing. There’s actually been a couple of arrests from that investigation. We’re looking at the possibility or it’s so obvious or coincidental that a week later we get hacked.“
De La Cruz tells us information is constantly backed up and the city is slowly but surely recovering information, “We’re definitely going to up our game when it comes to security.“
City officials are set to meet with the FBI to better discuss security for residents information. Officials ask residents to be patient during this investigation. They assure them that they are working with their information and technology department along with the FBI to implement a better antivirus and firewall software.