What just happened? Cybercriminals hitting US city and state governments with ransomware has become increasingly popular in recent times. Now, Louisiana has been targeted—and not for the first time.
In a series of tweets, Governor John Bel Edwards wrote that the state’s cybersecurity team was activated in response to an attempted ransomware attack that was affecting some servers.
On identifying the attack, the Office of Technology Services (OTS) took down state servers as a precaution, which impacted many state agencies’ e-mail, websites, and other applications.
"The service interruption was due to OTS' aggressive response to prevent additional infection of state servers and not due to the attempted ransomware attack," the governor added.
Government servers that manage email communications and internal applications were affected, as were several websites, including the Office Motor Vehicles, Department of Corrections, Office of the Governor, Louisiana State Legislature, and more.
The Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services’ Child Abuse and Neglect hotline was also impacted and down for several hours.
The issue prevented business from being done at any of the state’s 79 OMV locations, writes WAFB9.
OTS has confirmed that this attempted ransomware attack is similar to the ransomware targeted at local school districts and government entities across the country this summer. There is no anticipated data loss and the state did not pay a ransom. #lagov #lalege— John Bel Edwards (@LouisianaGov) 18 November 2019
In July, Louisiana was hit with a ransomware attack that impacted three school districts, leading to Edwards declaring a state-wide emergency. As the OTS detected and stopped yesterday’s attack, such an extreme measure wasn’t required.
Unlike many of the other cases of ransomware that have hit government systems, there is no anticipated data loss from the attack, and the state did not pay a ransom. Earlier this year, Riviera Beach, Florida, voted to pay hackers $600,000, while another Florida location, Lake City, paid around $500,000 in bitcoins.
Back in August, more than 20 local government entities in Texas were impacted by a “coordinated ransomware attack.” As of October this year, there have been 81 incidents of ransomware affecting local US governments.