Cities, county still reeling in wake of cyberattack

TEXARKANA, Texas — As multiple agencies in both Texarkanas and Bowie County remain crippled by a ransomware attack discovered more than a month ago, frustration at a lack of information and progress grows among officials and personnel.

The attack on Texarkana Water Utilities, which handles information technology services for both the cities of Texarkana, Texas, and Texarkana, Arkansas, as well as Bowie County, Texas, was discovered Dec. 6. Agencies including the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office; Texarkana Texas Police Department; Texarkana Arkansas Police Department; Bowie County District Attorney’s Office; Bowie County District Clerk’s Office; Bowie County Clerk’s Office; Bowie County probation; Bowie County Justices of the Peace; and multiple other offices have been seriously impacted by the cyber attack.

“At this point I have no knowledge from the county judge’s office other than a short note about the ransomware,” Bowie County Justice of the Peace Nancy Talley said. “I’m in the dark like everyone else.”

Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell said a criminal investigation into the matter is ongoing and that the county has been advised to refrain from issuing public statements by a Pennsylvania law firm.

“Be patient. We will put some information out when the time is right,” Howell said.

Howell said the process of “rebuilding the network” is ongoing though he lamented one would need a “crystal ball” to know when digital processes and infrastructure would be restored and whether data has been irretrievably lost.

“It’s a complex organization,” Howell said.

Howell was reluctant in interviews this week to reveal the name of the law firm advising the county and has declined to provide the Gazette with a copy of the county’s relevant insurance policy. Shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday morning Howell texted contact information for the Mullen Coughlin firm of Devon, Pennsylvania, to Gazette staff. The firm’s website states it specializes in data privacy and incident response services.

A representative of Mullen Coughlin did not respond to a request for comment.

Bowie County Emergency Management Coordinator Lance Hall did not respond to calls from the Gazette this week other than a text message response…