Three school districts were hit by ransomware in North Louisiana last week.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has activated a statewide state of emergency in response to a wave of ransomware infections that have hit multiple school districts. The state of emergency will remain in place until August 21, or until the recovery process at school districts is complete.
There’s gold in your servers, cash in your cloud. Social Security numbers, Medical records, Addresses, Financial data, and guess what? All that data is stored in outdated network infrastructure, and that is more than an invitation.
The ransomware infections last week impacted the school districts of three North Louisiana parishes — Sabine, Morehouse, and Ouachita.IT networks are down at all three school districts, and files have been encrypted and are inaccessible, per local media outlets.
This is the second time that a state governor has activated a state emergency due to ransomware or any form of cyber-attack. The first time was in Colorado in February 2018, when the Colorado Department of Transportation was forced to shut down operations because of an infection with the SamSam ransomware. However, that state emergency activated additional state resources to help with traffic, road management, and transportation, and not with deploying cyber-security experts to help victims, like in Louisiana’s case.
By signing the Emergency Declaration, the Louisiana governor is making available state resources to impacted schools. This includes assistance from cybersecurity experts from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Office of Technology Services, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP), and others.
Gov. Edwards was able to roll out a coordinated response for the ransomware infections at schools in the North Louisiana because he previously established a Cybersecurity Commission to assemble and coordinate response teams in the event of a cyber-attack.
He created this commission in December 2017, in the year when three ransomware outbreaks — namely WannaCry, NotPetya, and Bad Rabbit — had caused havoc across the globe, including in Louisiana.
“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,” Gov. Edwards said.
Gulf Coast neighboring Florida had three municipalities hit by ransomware — Riviera Beach (paid $600,000); Lake City (paid $500,000); and Key Biscayne (recovered from backups).
In recent months, US cities have been a prime target for ransomware gangs. Earlier today, some residents of Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city and financial capital, have been left without electricity after a ransomware infection.