Louisiana Declares State Of Emergency After Ransomware Attacks

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Spate of ransomware attacks on school systems leads state Governor last week to declare a state of emergency

A string of ransomware attacks on school networks in the US state of Louisiana led to Governor John Bel Edwards last week declaring a ‘state of emergency’.

The dramatic move came after school systems in Sabine, Morehouse, and Ouachita parishes in North Louisiana, were reportedly hit by ransomware attacks.

Ransomware is a scourge of computer systems at the moment, and has impacted businesses and cities such as the City of Baltimore in recent months.

State of emergency

Besides sounding dramatic, the move by Governor Edwards does give the US state access to some much needed assistance from public bodies in the state.

“The declaration makes available state resources and allows for assistance from cybersecurity experts from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Office of Technology Services and others to assist local governments in responding to and preventing future data loss,” said the Governor’s statement.

“The state was made aware of a malware attack on a few north Louisiana school systems and we have been coordinating a response ever since,” Gov. Edwards said. “This is exactly why we established the Cyber Security Commission, focused on preparing for, responding to and preventing cybersecurity attacks, and we are well-positioned to assist local governments as they battle this current threat.”

This is the first activation of Louisiana’s emergency support function relating to cybersecurity, which is newly created in Louisiana, in anticipation of the threat of cyber attacks.

Pay or not?

This proactive move by the state Governor two years ago to create the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission to access cyber threats, stands in marked contrast to a lack of action from other US cities and towns.

A Florida city in the US called Lake City recently opted to pay hackers after a ransomware attack.

The Lake City decision to pay the hackers $500,000 (£394,000) was aided by the fact that insurance would cover most of the ransom.

It came after the council of another city in Florida (Riviera Beach City) voted unanimously to pay hackers $600,000 who took over their computer systems via a ransomware attack earlier this year.

A RiskIQ report recently found that cybercrime on the internet is costing the global economy £2.3 million per minute.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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