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New Orleans government targeted by cyberattack

New Orleans Communications Director Beau Tidwell said the intrusion was discovered around 11 a.m. Friday.
Credit: @nolaready

NEW ORLEANS — Computer systems owned by New Orleans city government were shut down Friday afternoon after engineers detected unwanted cyber activity.

New Orleans Communications Director Beau Tidwell said the intrusion was discovered around 11 a.m. Friday. IT teams then recommended shutting down the system and ordering all employees to sign off and turn off electronic devices.

"The City of New Orleans is under a cyber attack. Please power off your computers and unplug them immediately. Await further instructions," an internal text message from the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness said.

Tidwell said that the cyberattack did not affect the 911 emergency system. Computer systems for the New Orleans Police Department and New Orleans EMS were affected. however. 

The shutdown included all City Hall offices, NOPD computers and EMS computers, and the Clerk of Criminal Court's office. 

Police and EMS were operating through radio only Friday afternoon. Clerk of Court Arthur Morrell said his office was still operating with its internal database and paper records. 

Besides 911 operations, the shutdown did also not affect Civil Court, which operates on a separate server, and parking enforcement, as meter maids continued to issue tickets Friday. 

Engineers do not yet know the full extent of the attack or potential damage. There have been no requests for ransom, Tidwell said.

The city's website, NOLA.gov, was unavailable on Friday afternoon. Employees at city hall are unable to use computers to complete work. Tidwell said residents who had planned to go to City Hall for business Friday should come back next week.

A ransomware attack hit several Louisiana state government computers last month. The state quickly shut down network traffic to prevent the spread, and have brought most state offices back online since. The ransomware attack damaged 10% of Louisiana’s computer servers for state government. But officials say no data was lost and no ransom was paid.

Credit: TJ Pipetone, WWL-TV
A monitor in the lobby of New Orleans' City Hall is disconnected from its server after a cyberattack on the government was detected Friday morning.

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