A “coordinated” ransomware attack just hit more than 20 government agencies in Texas, and experts say it should be a wake-up call for Tennessee.

The attacks in Texas have knocked several systems offline.

The attacks essentially locks down information so a company or agency can’t access it until a ransom is paid to cyber criminals.

“I’ve seen different state agencies, local agencies around the country be attacked. This is the first time we’re seeing some sort of coordinated effort,” president of Kraft Technology Don Baham said. “I think it’s a wake-up call for Tennessee agencies to make sure that they’re paying attention.”

Baham said these attacks can put your personal information at risk, which was a concern in Murfreesboro after a city website was hacked. The city later said they don’t believe information was taken.

“It may have been a precursor to something like this, a larger event, that was averted,” Baham said.

Baham said security awareness training is critical for local agencies.

“More often than not in these ransomware attacks it’s that human element, human firewall breaks down when somebody does something that they shouldn’t of done,” Baham said. “Usually it starts with a phishing email, somebody found something and clicked on a link and then they end up in advertently giving access to cyber criminals.”

News4 found several local agencies are part of a national cybersecurity network - MS-ISAC. Baham said it’s a free tool every agency should join.

“It gives a wealth of resources on the proactive side as well as resources on the reactive cyber incident response side,” Baham said. “It’s going to provide resources that they probably don’t have on staff.”

Resources that could prevent you from being the next target.

“It’s a matter of time when something like this is going to happen again and hopefully it doesn’t happen in Tennessee,” Baham said.

Baham says the best thing you can do to help protect your information is to freeze your credit. You can do that through for free at EquifaxExperianTransUnion and NCTUE.

You should also look for an identity protection program outside of major credit businesses. Baham recommends Zander Insurance and InfoArmor.

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Brittany Weiner joined the News4 team as a reporter in July 2018.

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