Twenty-three Texas towns were affected last week by a "coordinated" ransomware attack, prompting a "Level 2 Escalated Response" by Texas Governor Greg Abbott—just one step below the highest level of alert in the state.

Scott Shackelford, an associate professor of business law and ethics at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, serves as cybersecurity program chair at IU and is director of the Ostrom Workshop Program on Cybersecurity and Internet Governance. He is also a senior fellow at IU’s Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research and a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Following on the heels of the governor of Louisiana declaring a state of emergency following ransomware attacks on three school corporations, we now see 23 communities in Texas being hit by a coordinated ransomware attack,” said Shackelford. “These attacks are part of a larger and disturbing national trend with small towns, clinics and county governments in the crosshairs—from Maryland and Florida to Valdez, Alaska, being hit.

"Although the federal government has made some strides in better protecting vulnerable critical infrastructure in partnership with industry across the nation, more needs to be done to help these small organizations, who oftentimes have overstretched budgets and limited expertise in cybersecurity risk management," he added.

At IU, Shackelford will serve as the academic director of the university’s new cybersecurity clinic.

"The IU Cybersecurity Clinic is designed to help these types of clients across the state better manage these types of threats, while helping to address the cybersecurity workforce shortage by providing students with applied, real-world cybersecurity training," he said. "We stand ready to work with any other universities and community colleges across the nation to launch similar partnerships. We can, and should, all do our part to better manage the multi-faceted cyber threat facing our towns, cities, states and nation."

Shackelford is also an affiliated scholar at both the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society.

To speak with Shackelford, contact Nicole Wilkins, Indiana University, [email protected], 812-856-2119, or Kelsey Cook, Indiana University, [email protected], 317-274-5090.