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Ransomware Again Strikes Louisiana, Forcing Server Shutdowns

The state, which just suffered a large-scale coordinated attack in July, was forced to take a majority of its state servers offline to mitigate the risk of the malware's infection spreading.

Another ransomware attack has struck the state of Louisiana, forcing the government to shut off Web services and websites for a majority of its agencies in an effort to quarantine the infection, the Governor's Office said Monday. 

The attack, which was reported around Monday morning, is the second prominent attack of 2019, after nearly half a dozen Louisiana school districts were struck by a coordinated ransomware attack this summer

Numerous large state agencies were affected by Monday's attack and subsequent shutdown — including the Office of the Governor, the Office of Motor Vehicles and the Louisiana State Legislature, among others. While speaking with a local news outlet, Jacques Berry, the communication director for the Division of Administration, said that "most" state services had been affected by the attack, and that they would be restored in order of priority.

"Today, we activated the state's cybersecurity team in response to an attempted ransomware attack that is affecting some state servers. The Office of Technology Services identified a cybersecurity threat that affected some, but not all state servers," said Gov. John Bel Edwards over Twitter. "OTS immediately initiated its security protocols and, out of an abundance of caution, took state servers down, which impacted many state agencies’ e-mail, websites and other online applications."

Service interruptions, Edwards said, were predominantly from the state's response — not the attack. He also made the recovery period for many of the systems sound brief. 

"The service interruption was due to OTS’ aggressive response to prevent additional infection of state servers and not due to the attempted ransomware attack," Edwards said. "Online services started to come back online this afternoon, though full restoration may take several days." 

The incident is being investigated by the Louisiana State Police and "several federal agencies" are investigating the attack, Edwards said. 

Jay Dardenne, commissioner of the Division of Administration, said in a statement to the press that the state's cyberteam was prepared to handle such incidents.  

“Our experts train and prepare for these types of incidents and have been successful in mitigating similar issues in the past, including this summer when our teams successfully brought services back online following the cyberattack on local schools. We have confidence in our cyber safeguards, capabilities and personnel and we are working to bring as many online services back online as quickly as we can.”

Lucas Ropek is a former staff writer for Government Technology.
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