Gov. Edwards declares first ever statewide cybersecurity emergency

Mayor Cantrell says New Orleans is monitoring incidents

Don Ames
July 28, 2019 - 6:52 am

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Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a statewide emergency declaration following a cybersecurity attack on several school systems in North Louisiana.  Senior Coordinating Official for the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission Kenneth Donnelly says the state was first made aware of a malware attack on July 23rd.

“We started a statewide effort, that’s why the Governor issued the declaration.  To be proactive and not only to contain the threat but to also conduct preventative measures and hygiene,” said Donnelly.

While no local attacks have been detected at this time, the City of New Orleans’ information systems remain intact, the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, along with Information Technology and Innovation, is monitoring the situation and is in close contact with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal level.  

“This is today’s reality,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell. “We have to take the cyber threat seriously and we need to continue to protect our information infrastructure, upon which our operations are increasingly dependent. Maintaining our infrastructure means paying attention to this issue. I’m urging all residents, organizations, and businesses to review their cyber security protocols and to remain vigilant.”

This is the first activation of Louisiana’s emergency support function relating to cybersecurity.  Donnelly says the Louisiana State Police, National Guard, GOHSEP, and the Office of Technology service are all working alongside the FBI in response to the attack that’s impacted school systems in Sabine, Morehouse and Ouachita Parishes.

“We’re going to continue to work this thing as long as we have to, ensuring that we have a good understanding of who needs assistance and the state is here to help as we are needed,” said Donnelly.

Donnelly says they are making a statewide effort to educate everyone throughout the state to be on the look and safeguard themselves from possible future attacks.  Donnelly says you can find resources with GOHSEP.

“There’s also the Louisiana cybersecurity website for the commission.  You can go to LA.gov to get access to the commission’s resources and the state’s resources,” said Donnelly.

Residents, organizations, and businesses are encouraged to review cybersecurity protocols. Basic tips are listed below and more information is available at ready.nola.gov/cyber.

Use antivirus solutions and firewalls to block threats. Keep your anti-virus software updated.

Use strong passwords that are 12 characters or longer. Use upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Change passwords monthly. Use a password manager.

Use a stronger authentication. Use a PIN or password that only you would know.

Think before you click. Watch for suspicious activity that asks you to do something right away, offers something that sounds too good to be true, or needs your personal information.

Check your account statements and credit reports regularly.

Use secure internet communications. Use sites that use “HTTPS” if you will access or provide any personal information. Don’t use sites with invalid certificates.

Back up your files. Regularly back up your files in an encrypted file or encrypted file storage device.

Limit the personal information you share online. Change privacy settings and do not use location features.

Protect your home network. Change the administrative and Wi-Fi passwords regularly. When configuring your router, choose the Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) setting, which is the strongest encryption option.

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