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State of emergency declared in New Orleans following ‘cyberattack’

City employees were 'immediately alerted to power down computers, unplug devices, and disconnect from WiFi.'

Dec 14, 2019, 4:12 pm

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Mikael Thalen 

Mikael Thalen

A state of emergency was declared in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Friday following what the city has described as a “cybersecurity incident.”

The declaration, made by Mayor LaToya Cantrell, warned that the emergency was potentially ongoing and that the incident “could result in the endangerment of property” in the city.

“A declaration of a state of emergency has been filed with the Civil District Court in connection with today’s cyber security event,” the city tweeted.

City officials later confirmed that the attack involved ransomware but that no information has been compromised.

NOLA Ready, New Orleans’ emergency preparedness campaign, further noted that many of the city’s computers were shut down “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Out of an abundance of caution, all employees were immediately alerted to power down computers, unplug devices & disconnect from WiFi,” NOLA Ready said. “All servers have been powered down as well.”

Despite many city functions being put on hold, officials added that emergency services remain active throughout New Orleans. That includes 911 and 311 services, as well as the police, fire, and emergency medical services.

The city also activated its emergency operations center and enlisted the help of “cybersecurity resources” from the Louisiana State Police, the FBI, the state’s National Guard, and the U.S. Secret Service.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards had only just declared a state of emergency late last month after numerous state agencies were similarly targeted by hackers.

The attacks are part of a growing trend across the country in which attackers attempt to cripple major government entities with malware in order to receive a large payoff.

Earlier this year other major cities including Baltimore and Greenville, North Carolina, were hit with ransomware as well. In both instances, officials refused to pay a ransom to the hackers in order to have their computers’ data restored.

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H/T the Hill

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*First Published: Dec 14, 2019, 4:12 pm