The City of New Orleans has suffered a cyberattack serious enough to cripple its operations. As a precautionary measure, all city employees were instructed to power down computers, disconnect from Wi-Fi, and unplug any of their devices. All city servers were also powered down. It is not clear when the systems will be back online.
Kim LaGrue, New Orleans’ chief information officer, said during a press conference that investigators found evidence of phishing attempts and ransomware. At this time, the city does not believe any employee information was compromised. She says that no city employees provided information to the would-be scammers.
Mayor LaToya Cantrell declared a state of emergency over the incident. A declaration of a state of emergency has been filed with the Civil District Court. NOLA Ready, managed by the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, said that although the “Real-Time Crime Center” had been powered down, emergency communications had not been affected and the police and fire departments continued to operate as usual.
The incident is being investigated by city officials, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard, the FBI and the Secret Service. It is not clear who was behind the attack. Cantrell said the attack is similar to the recent attack that targeted the state of Louisiana in November. It isn’t yet known if the two were connected.
U.S. municipalities are firmly in the crosshairs of ransomware threat actors. The New Orleans cyberattack came days after a cyberattack downed computers in Pensacola, Florida. In August, 23 government agencies were taken offline by a cyberattack on the State of Texas. Last July, several school systems in Louisiana were attacked by malware, prompting Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards to issue a state of emergency.