Louisiana: Cyberattack Has No Impact on State’s Elections

A recent ransomware incident in Louisiana, which crippled roughly 10 percent of the state’s computer network servers just hours after a statewide election, poses few issues for the election results.

by Mark Ballard, The Advocate / November 25, 2019

(TNS) — Last week's ransomware attack in Louisiana, which crippled about 10% of the state’s computer network servers just hours after votes were tallied in statewide elections for governor, legislative seats and other positions prompted many to look for intrigue, a legislative panel heard Friday.

"A lot of the conspiracy theorists are calling me,” said state Sen. Bodi White, R-Central. He questioned whether the attack, which kept many in state government from using their computers throughout much of the week, could cause problems for certification of election results or changed numbers in election returns.

Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin said no.

“Nothing impacted our system,” Ardoin said in an interview Friday.

The website was down for a while. But, for the most part, the election office’s database for voters and votes is separate from the state system.

“This incident confirms our insistence not to merge systems,” Ardoin said. Former Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal wanted to combine the computer systems arguing that it would be more efficient to run everything through a single system.

During the summer, when school boards in seven parishes faced a similar ransom demand, Ardoin said his IT people updated their systems and protocols.

Five elections, all local, were recounted this week, but none were requested because of the computer problems, he said.

The elections returns will be certified early next – on schedule, Ardoin said.

Meanwhile, the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget heard an update from the administration’s deputy chief information officer, Neal Underwood. Only about 10% of the state’s 5,000 network servers were disrupted. About 1,500 of the state’s 30,000 computers were damaged.

But no data was lost, no ransom was paid and the agency with the biggest public face, the Office of Motor Vehicles, should reopen Monday, Neal said.

©2019 The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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