The city of New Orleans is dealing with a cyber-attack. The nature of the cyber-attack has been confirmed as a ransomware infection in a press conference held today by New Orleans officials.
The attack was discovered earlier today, at around 11:00 am, local time, a city spokesperson told ZDNet via phone call.
“Out of an abundance of caution, all employees were immediately alerted to power down computers, unplug devices & disconnect from the city’s WiFi,” said Beau Tidwell, a spokesman for New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell.
The nola.gov website is also offline, being shut down with the rest of the city’s servers.
According to reports from local media outlets [1, 2], to make sure employees powered down computers as soon as possible, officials used the city hall’s public loudspeakers systems to alert employees of the cyber-attack.
Besides city hall, the incident also affected the New Orleans Police Department, which shut down its IT network in entirety as well.
Police officers are still in the field, unaffected, using radios and other backup communications services, although they don’t have access to historical data stored on the department’s servers.
On social media, New Orleans officials said that 911 emergency services were not affected.
In a press conference held today, Mayor Cantrell said the investigation into the attack is still ongoing, and that the city knows it’s ransomware, but they have not received or found a ransom demand yet.
Officials said the Louisiana State Police, FBI New Orleans, the Louisiana National Guard, and the Secret Service are helping the city investigate and recover from the attack.
This incident marks the third ransomware incident reported in the state of Louisiana.
In August, three school districts were hit by ransomware, prompting the Louisiana governor to declare a state emergency, the first one in the state’s history caused by a cyber-attack, rather than a natural disaster.
A second incident took place last month when a second ransomware attack encrypted data on the Louisiana state government’s IT network. Weeks after the attack, some state agencies are still having difficulties with accessing state data, although these are expected t be resolved by the end of the year.
New Orleans is the third major US city to deal with a ransomware attack in recent years after similar attacks have hit Atlanta (SamSam ransomware in 2018) and Baltimore (RobbinHood ransomware in 2019).
Article updated on December 13, 16:35 CST with information from Mayor Cantrell’s press conference. Title updated accordingly.
The Five Pillars of (Azure) Cloud-based Application Security
This 1-hour webinar from GigaOm brings together experts in Azure cloud application migration and security, featuring GigaOm analyst Jon Collins and special guests from Fortinet, Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, Daniel Schrader, and Global Director of Public Cloud Architecture and Engineering, Aidan Walden.
These interesting times have accelerated the drive towards digital transformation, application rationalization, and migration to cloud-based architectures. Enterprise organizations are looking to increase efficiency, but without impacting performance or increasing risk, either from infrastructure resilience or end-user behaviors.
Success requires a combination of best practice and appropriate use of technology, depending on where the organization is on its cloud journey. Elements such as zero-trust access and security-driven networking need to be deployed in parallel with security-first operations, breach prevention and response.
If you are looking to migrate applications to the cloud and want to be sure your approach maximizes delivery whilst minimizing risk, this webinar is for you.
Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise
This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.
Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.
In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.
CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions
Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.
Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.
“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”
As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.
Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.
“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.
So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:
“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”
Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.
“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”
Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast
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