New Orleans City Employees Shut Down Computers Amid Cyberattack

How to protect yourself from hackers

The website is also offline, being shut down with the rest of the city's servers.

"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.

Early indications are that the city was hit with a ransomware attack, though no requests or demands appear to have been made of the city as of late afternoon Friday, according to Mayor LaToya Cantrell at a press conference late Friday afternoon.

The City's IT department says it first noticed suspicious activity around 5 Friday morning.

Cantrell has not yet specified which city services are facing the most serious difficulties due to the cyberattack.

Government employees began logging onto their computers around 8am and the suspicious activity increased.

The cyberattack is being investigated by the city with help from the Louisiana State Police, Louisiana National Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Secret Service. Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common against cities and other government agencies. The city confirmed no information was compromised, WDSU reports; the city's 911 system also wasn't affected. The city doesn't believe employees interacted or provided any information to the adversaries, city officials said.

"We were proactive, and I think this is a real example of that", Mayor Cantrell said Friday afternoon.

Ransomware viruses are programs created to encrypt files stored on attacked computers without the user's knowledge.

New Orleans is the third major U.S. city to deal with a ransomware attack in recent years after similar attacks have hit Atlanta (SamSam ransomware in 2018) and Baltimore (RobbinHood ransomware in 2019). The Nassau County district was among several statewide targeted by a ransomware virus.



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