New Orleans declares state emergency after ransomware attacks

New Orleans has entered into a state of emergency due to cybersecurity concerns. The city’s official servers and computers have been shut down after growing evidence of phishing attempts and ransomware.
New Orleans
New Orleans’ systems had been targeted by cyberattackers. Photo: Antrell Williams via Flickr

An ongoing saga

TechCrunch reports that the Louisiana city was well-prepared in its response to the detection of the breach. Fortunately, staff didn’t interact or provide sensitive information to the possible infiltrators. The employees have been well-trained following previous reports of similar attacks on other southern United States districts.

Jackson County, Georgia and Pensacola, Florida were two areas that have had its fair share of ransomware attacks this year.

Furthermore, the government of Louisiana’s computers were also violated just last month. This caused authorities to deactivate the state’s official website and other public services before it also declared an emergency for the second time.

Strong response

Due to this week’s incident, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell conducted a press conference and shared a statement on Twitter.

Latoya Cantrell
LaToya Cantrell has been the mayor of New Orleans since May 2018. Photo: PopTech via Flickr

The tweet shared a signed document, confirming the reasons for the declaration.

“A declaration of emergency is necessary to allow City agencies to thoroughly prepare for and respond to any eventuality and to allow state and federal resources to be deployed, if necessary,” Cantrell’s statement read.

“There have been severe, intentional cybersecurity breaches of public entities throughout the state of Louisiana; and a declaration of a state of emergency is appropriate due to the City of New Orleans experiencing a breach of cybersecurity incident on or about 11:00 am on December 13, 2019.”

Could have been worse

Police, fire, and ambulance services are working outside of the city’s internet network while the investigations are ongoing. Additionally, emergency communications won’t be impacted.

New Orleans police
Police in New Orleans will still be able to go about their duties without interruption. Photo: Stanley Wood via Flickr

Furthermore, the city’s security cameras record independently from the network. Therefore, they will still be in operation during this period.

The swift action taken by the authorities needs to be praised. Attacks like these often go unnoticed until it is too late or the authorities are not well-equipped to handle them. The global WannaCry outbreak of 2017 left authorities and businesses with hefty bills to pay to recover from the security breaches that happened.

These attacks can be detrimental to the security of both institutions and the public if they are not effectively dealt with. Therefore, New Orleans officials have made the correct decision to shut down its vulnerable systems while they address the situation.

The city doesn’t seems to be too phased while it is in a state of emergency as officials can be seen making casual public appearances on Twitter. Nonetheless, the mood would have been much gloomier had the alleged attackers been more successful in their motives.

What are your thoughts on this cyberattack on the city of New Orleans? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

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