NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell says she expects the cost of Friday’s cyberattack on city computers to exceed the $3 million cyber insurance policy the city has in place.
Computer systems owned by New Orleans city government were shut down Friday morning after engineers detected unwanted cyber activity that was later identified as ransomware -- common malware that infects and locks up servers until a ransom is paid.
City officials say they never received a ransom request, however, and all of the data impacted by the cyberattack can be recovered. However, they did not give a timetable for when the computer system will be back to full strength, and multiple public services have been affected as a result.
As the forensic investigation into who is responsible for the ransomware attack continues, Cantrell said Wednesday that the cost to respond to the attack will exceed the insurance policy the city has in place. While she did not give an exact estimate of the cost, she said she plans to raise the policy to $10 million next year.
According to New Orleans IT Director Kimberly LaGrue, the activity was first detected around 5 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 13. When employees arrived for work around 8 a.m., the suspicious activity increased and by 11 a.m. employees were notified that a cyberattack was underway.
City Council President Helena Moreno admits it's hard to gauge how soon city computers will be restored.
"When you have around 4,000 computers impacted and to bring just one computer back, apparently, it takes several hours to half-a-day," City Council President Helena Moreno said. "Just think about that times 4,000."
See the full list of impacts on city services, per the City of New Orleans:
New Orleans Police Department
The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) continues normal operations. Communications through the Orleans Parish Communications District are effective and efficient. The department is documenting incidents manually. Body-worn cameras and in-car camera footage continue to record and plans are in place to ensure the preservation of footage. Temporarily, NOPD will not be able to run background checks for the public.
New Orleans Fire Department
The New Orleans Fire Department emergency response is not affected, and firefighters are responding as normal to all calls.
New Orleans Emergency Medical Services
New Orleans Emergency Medical Services (EMS) response operations have not been impacted. There may be a delay for non-emergency business matters. Residents are asked to call 3-1-1 for non-emergency requests until department phone lines are restored. EMS-related business emails can be sent to email@example.com.
Real-Time Crime Center
The City's public safety cameras are functional and are recording.
Orleans Parish Communications District
The Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) system has remained operational throughout this event. Citizens who wish to submit NOLA-311 requests online should do so at www.nola311.org until the incident is resolved. OPCD continues to work closely with other City of New Orleans public safety agencies to offer assistance where needed.
New Orleans Recreation Development Commission
All facilities and programs will open and operate as usual. Residents will need to manually sign in when visiting NORD facilities.
Municipal and Traffic Court will be closed tomorrow, however, Municipal Court will be hearing first appearances. The District Attorney's Office, Criminal District Court, and the Sheriff’s Office will operate as normal.
There is no anticipated impact to the Department of Sanitation operations. Enforcement Rangers will track violations manually on paper records.
Public Works Maintenance and Inspection
The City will continue to clean catch basins and address potholes. Reports will be made manually.
Taxes & Revenue
Monthly sales tax payments are due on Friday, Dec. 20. Since the City's systems are down, taxpayers have the option of filing tax forms at Parish EFile or Sales Tax Online. The Department of Revenue will service taxpayers and will accept payments by cashier checks and money orders.
New Orleans Health Department
The New Orleans Health Department offices will be open as usual. The department will be answering phones for resident issues and accommodating walk-ins for questions and immunization records. There will be limited connectivity and difficulty accessing files and data. Healthcare for the Homeless will be unable to see patients due to the inability to access electronic health records. They will have all regular sites fully staffed and will be using paper records to reschedule patient appointments when individuals arrive. WIC will be fully staffed and able to operate using paper records, although vouchers will not be able to be distributed as normal. The Healthy Environments Team will be unable to perform this week's homeless cleaning and outreach sweep. Other programs will have limited connectivity and the inability to access files and data.
Orientation (WIOA) and classes (STRIVE & LaJET) will occur as normal. No computerized job search will be available, so job seekers can view printed job leads displayed on job boards.
Neighborhood Engagement Office
Neighborhood Liaisons will continue to address cases by working with City departments by phone. All updates can be provided by residents over the phone at 504-658-4900. Neighborhood Engagement will update residents with pertinent information via NextDoor and other available digital outlets. Neighborhood Engagement will continue to coordinate future CleanUpNOLA events over the phone with partners and begin sorting submitted community impact grant applications.
Safety and Permits
The Department of Safety and Permits will be scheduling inspections manually while services are down. Community members should use the following phone numbers Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or call 3-1-1 24/7 to schedule inspections:
- Taxis, school buses & other ground transportation - 658-7170
- Building inspections - 658-7130
- Electrical inspections - 658-7145
- Mechanical inspections - 658-7153
Until further notice, all payments must be made by check or money order made out to The City of New Orleans. All applications, documents, and records must be submitted in paper form.
City Planning Commission
The City Planning Commission will be able to accept all types of applications, filed manually on paper as normal. A timely review of new and pending applications may be delayed.
Historic Districts Landmark Commission
The New Orleans and Central Business District Historic Districts Landmark Commission will hold the regularly scheduled Architectural Review Committee meetings on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Applicants need to bring six sets of 11x17 sized drawings for review. Over-the-counter reviews for repair and restoration work will be issued in person at the One-Stop permitting office on the 7th floor of City Hall. Review and approval of building plans will temporarily be halted.
Vieux Carre Commission
The Vieux Carre Commission will be able to meet applicants, perform site visits, conduct inspections, and hold its regularly scheduled Architectural Committee meeting on Tuesday. Permits will be created manually as necessary.
Film permitting will be coordinated through location managers on behalf of productions via phone and evaluated for conditional approval by the Film New Orleans office and pertinent City offices.
Parking Permits & Towing
Parking enforcement officials will fully support field enforcement operations, support boot returns and assisted releases, and will accept payments at the Claiborne Auto Pound Cashiering Office. Towing will be able to execute normal operations. The Department of Public Works traffic team will not be able to review or approve permits in the digital permitting system. Field operations will be tracked manually on paper. Parking officials will be unable to issue residential permit parking decals.
Parks and Parkways Rental Permits
The Department of Parks and Parkways can receive in-person rental requests at our office located at 2829 Gentilly Blvd between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. However, the department cannot confirm new park rentals for Armstrong Park, Jackson Square, Washington Square, Brechtel Park and Palmer Park until the system is available. Joe Bartholomew golf course is open but cannot book advance tee times. The department will accommodate golfers on a first-come, first-served basis.