Louisiana Faces Down Ransomware Attack On State Agencies
Several services were shut down on Monday, but the governor says that it was a pre-emptive measure and that the ransomware did not infect all government servers.
- By Haley Samsel
- Nov 19, 2019
Several Louisiana state agencies were taken offline after an attempted ransomware attack on Monday, leading Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) to activate the state’s cybersecurity team to respond to the attack.
In a statement, Edwards said that the Louisiana Office of Technology Services identified a cybersecurity threat on Monday morning that “affected some, but not all state servers.”
“OTS immediately initiated its security protocols and, out of an abundance of caution, took state servers down, which impacted many state agencies’ e-mail, websites and other online applications,” Edwards said in a tweet.
Some of those services included state-run hotlines, including the child abuse and neglect reporting hotline run by the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services. The hotline is now back up and running, according to a tweet by the department on Monday.
In his tweets, Edwards emphasized that the service outages on Monday morning were part of the state’s “aggressive response” to prevent additional hacking of state servers, not because the ransomware had infected all servers. Some services were restored as of Monday afternoon, but full restoration may take “several days,” he said.
The technology office confirmed that the ransomware attack is similar to the ransomware used to hack “local school districts and government entities across the country this summer,” according to Edwards. Reuters identified the particular ransomware as Ryuk, which was first named by cybersecurity firms in August 2018.
Edwards added that the state does not anticipate any data loss as a result of the attack, and the state government did not pay a ransom to resolve the issue.
Louisiana has already faced a major ransomware attack this year. Three school districts faced down a ransomware attack that affected their servers in July, leading Edwards to declare a state-wide emergency to send resources and cybersecurity help to the districts.
This is the second major ransomware attack Louisiana has been through this year, following one in July that impacted three school districts. Edwards declared a state-wide emergency in response to these attacks, which allowed for state resources and cybersecurity assistance to be given to the districts.