The city of New Orleans experienced a cyberattack so severe Mayor Latoya Cantrell declared a state of emergency.
The attack occurred on Friday, Dec. 13 and caused the city to shutdown government computers. Officials announced the shutdown via social media posts.
City Shutdown Government Computers
The attack started at 5 in the morning, according to the city of New Orleans. At around 11 a.m., employees noticed what they considered suspicious activity. As a result, the city’s IT department ordered employees disconnect from Wi-Fi and close down their computers.
Fortunately, an investigations into the attack is currently underway as Federal and State agencies gather more information. As of now, nothing is known about the malware used during the attack and the Mayor said no ransom demands had been made yet.
Louisiana’s Third Cyberattack
This ransomware attack is the third to affect Louisiana in five months. In November, another attack prompted Louisiana’s Office of Technological Services to shut down multiple state agencies. And in July, cyber criminals attacked several Louisiana school districts, shutting down their networks for ransom.
As a result of the schools attacks, Governor John Bel Edwards declare a state of emergency that allowed state agencies to help local governments recover from the attack.
What’s the Damage?
Unfortunately, it’s always difficult to tell the extent of the damage. It could take months and, in some cases, years to truly understand what information was stolen. Furthermore, hackers could have stolen government employee information, financial information and more from New Orleans.
Moreover, they will have to contact financial institutions and implement new procedures to address cyberattacks like this as well as increase security on their networks.
This begs the question, if State governments have to shut down entire systems and declare a state of emergency to deal with a cyberattack, what will it cost a small business?
Since the attack in November, The National Governors Association (NGA) has urged states to develop a formal continuity plan for responding to cyber threats. Additionally, cyber forensic experts will need to be brought in to investigate the breach.
Cyber Response Plan
The NGA released a State Cyber Response plan in July, that governments are developing and 15 states have made their plans public.
Without a doubt, the impact of ransomware attack is nothing to scoff at and governments are learning the hard way. Ultimately, having a continuity plans in place ensures recovery from a breach runs as smoothly as possible.
Cybercriminals Declare Hunting Season
The FBI issued a warning in October declaring an increase of cyberattacks on “big game” targets. These are targets with money and sensitive information, willing to pay ransoms to restore their systems.
That doesn’t just mean local and state governments, municipalities and agencies. For instance, hackers often target businesses, hospitals, accounting firms and financial advisers for their data.
Additionally, businesses have to adapt and invest in security if they expect to succeed. The first of several security lessons: no one is too big or to small to get hacked. Sensitive data is always in high demand. More importantly, dark web marketplaces, like Joker’s Stash, are always willing to sell it.
The Future of Cybercrime
Researchers warn that ransomware attacks will intensity in 2020. What’s worse, attacks are getting more sophisticated.
On the other hand,with the year coming to a close and a new one beginning, now is the perfect time to audit your IT infrastructure and verify it’s competency against these types of threats. Fortunately, 2020 will also see the rise of things like cyber insurance, AI and cloud-based security solutions.
Transitioning to a cloud-based solution, like a hybrid cloud, might help industries across the board avoid scenarios like the ones in Louisiana.
You can read our article on how businesses can protect themselves from a cyberattack.