New Orleans hit by ransomware, US cities continues to be under attack

Pierluigi Paganini December 14, 2019

The city of New Orleans is the last victim of a string of ransomware attacks that hit major American cities, including Atlanta and Baltimore.

New Orleans officials announced in a press conference that the city was hit by a ransomware attack, the incident was discovered in the morning of December 13, 2019.

The IT staff immediately informed all employees of the incident and asked them to power down computers to avoid the threat spreading.

Employees were ordered to turn off and unplug their computers from the network as soon as possible via the city hall’s public loudspeakers systems.

Every device was disconnected from the city’s networks.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all employees were immediately alerted to power down computers, unplug devices & disconnect from the city’s WiFi,” said Beau Tidwell, a spokesman for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

The ransomware attack forced the shutdown of the servers and computers, including the systems at the New Orleans Police Department, fortunately, the emergency services were not impacted. The city website is also offline.

The authorities immediately launched an investigation on the incident, Louisiana State Police, FBI New Orleans, the Louisiana National Guard, and the Secret Service are also supporting the city in recovering from the attack.

At the time of writing, the city officials have not received a ransom demand yet, there are no technical details about the attack and it is not clear the family of ransomware that infected the systems at the city.

Similar incidents were reported in the state of Louisiana, in August, three school districts were hit by ransomware ahead of the school opening.

In November, the state government of Louisiana was hit by a ransomware attack that affected multiple state services including the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Health, and the Department of Transportion and Development.

The incident forced the state of government of Louisiana to shut down several numerous web sites of the state as well as email and Internet services.

In the last months, other municipalities were hit by ransomware attacks, in August at least 23 local government organizations were impacted by the ransomware attacks.

Some cities in Florida were victims of hackers, including Key Biscayne, Riviera Beach and Lake City.

In June, the Riviera Beach City agreed to pay $600,000 in ransom to decrypt its data after a ransomware-based attack hit its computer system. A few days later, Lake City also agreed to pay nearly $500,000 in ransom after a ransomware attack.

In July 2018, another Palm Beach suburb, Palm Springs, decided to pay a ransom, but it was not able to completely recover all its data.

In March 2019, computers of Jackson County, Georgia, were infected with ransomware that paralyzed the government activity until officials decided to pay a $400,000 ransom to decrypt the files.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – New Orleans, ransomware)

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