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Louisiana Governor declares emergency after ransomware attack hits three schools

Louisiana Governor declares emergency after ransomware attack hits three schools
  • School systems in Monroe, Morehouse Parish, and Sabine Parish, were impacted by the ransomware attacks.
  • The state has hired cybersecurity experts from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, and the Office of Technology Services in order to resolve and prevent cyberattacks.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has issued an emergency declaration on July 24, 2019, after ransomware attacks against three schools have been detected.

The declaration will remain in effect through August 21, 2019, unless terminated earlier.

The big picture

School systems in Monroe, Morehouse Parish, and Sabine Parish, were impacted by the ransomware attacks.

“There have been severe, intentional cybersecurity breaches in the Sabine, Morehouse, and City of Monroe school systems that may potentially compromise other public and private entities throughout the State of Louisiana,” the declaration read.

Monroe Schools Superintendent Brent Vidrine noted that they discovered the attack on July 8, 2019, after the school system experienced a disruption.

  • Upon which, the school notified its IT service providers and hired third-party cybersecurity experts to investigate the incident.
  • The school also notified the law enforcement authorities to assist them with the investigation.

“While there are problems with system connectivity, we have no reason to believe there is any public safety issue. We also have no indication that there was any unauthorized access of sensitive or private information. We also believe that full connectivity will be restored in the near future,” Vidrine said, KNOE 8 News reported.

What actions have been taken?

  • An investigation has been launched to determine the source and impact of the attacks.
  • The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has activated its Crisis Action Team and the Emergency Services Function-17 to respond to the attacks.
  • The state has hired cybersecurity experts from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, and the Office of Technology Services in order to resolve and prevent cyberattacks.
  • The state is also closely working with the FBI, state agencies and higher education partners.

What was the response?

Gov. Edwards said that the state was made aware of the attack on a few north Louisiana school systems.

In 2017, Edwards established the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission which is a statewide partnership comprised of key stakeholders, subject matter experts, and cybersecurity professionals from Louisiana’s public sector, private industry, academia, and law enforcement.

“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,” Edwards said, CNN reported.

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