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Transportation agency hacked in 2nd Texas government attack

DALLAS (AP) — Texas' transportation agency has become the second part of the state government to be hit by a ransomware attack in recent days.

On Thursday, someone hacked into the Texas Department of Transportation's network in a “ransomware event,” according to a statement the department posted on social media Friday.

The departments' website says some features are unavailable due to technical difficulties, but it is not clear what functions were affected by the attack. Agency officials did not respond to emailed questions Sunday.

The hack comes days after another ransomware attack took down the websites and case management systems of Texas' appellate and high courts. The courts and transportation agency both said they are working with the FBI to investigate.

Hackers use ransomware to invade computer systems and encrypt files in an effort to extort payments to unlock them.

Upon detecting the hack, staff at the transportation department “immediately” isolated the affected parts of the network and “shut down further unauthorized access,” according to the statement. James Bass, the department's executive director, said his staff is "working to ensure critical operations continue during this interruption.″ The hacks follow a ransomware attack of unprecedented size that hit more than 20 local governments in Texas last summer.