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Texarkana rebounding from ransomware attack that crippled municipal computers

Leaders tell KSLA News 12 their systems are close to a complete recovery
Texarkana is rebounding from a ransomware attack that crippled some municipal computers on both...
Texarkana is rebounding from a ransomware attack that crippled some municipal computers on both sides of the state line. (Gray Television file photo)(Nick Nelson)
Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 10:33 PM CDT
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TEXARKANA (KSLA) — Over the past few months, a number of cyberattacks have crippled the function of businesses and some governmental agencies.

You may recall, KSLA News 12 first made you aware of city computers in Texarkana being victims of a ransomware attack that city leaders say came from Russia. Today, those municipal leaders say they are close to a complete recovery.

“When they got hacked, you kept getting problems on the bills,” Texarkana water customer Connie Lee told KSLA News 12 while stopping by the drive-through payment window Thursday, June 24 at the Texarkana Water Utilities office.

Lee and many other customers have experienced payment issues due to a ransomware attack on Texarkana city computers.

“You would come down and pay one thing after another, and they never would get corrected,” she explained. “They would send me bills I had already paid; and I had to bring bank account statements in and to bring proof in”

On Thursday, KSLA News 12 learned the Texarkana Water Utilities billing system has rebounded after nearly six months of dealing with fallout from the ransomware attack.

The cyberattack affected the billing cycle for customers but “... for the most part, we are pretty much back to normal business, which is good,” said Tricia Briggs, Texarkana Water Utilities’ finance director. “Minus disconnect and late fees; we still are not doing that at the moment.”

She described the past few months as a challenge for Texarkana Water Utilities and its more than 30,000 customers.

Briggs acknowledged there is still work to be done to bring the billing system completely back. “We are making good progress. We are still correcting accounts, doing some adjustments.”

Until all the issues are resolved, she said, customers should contact Texarkana Water Utilities with any questions about their bills.

“Continue to be patient with us because we are still doing some adjustments on some accounts that we know have errors. We have a list and are working through the list”

City officials said they have put additional safety features in place to help prevent another ransomware attack.

“So now it is taken care of and I hope things get better. I hope they do have it under control,” said Lee, the customer we mentioned earlier.

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