Unauthorized download exposed Louisiana agencies to ransomware; Office of Motor Vehicles offices still closed

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) — Louisiana state officials hope to restore government servers to normal by Monday, after an unauthorized download exposed state-owned computers to a virus.

The state plans to remove and reinstall software on more than 600 computers affected by ransomware. Hackers typically use ransomware to lock users out of their own personal data, then demand ransom before returning the files.

No data was compromised, and the state did not pay a ransom, state cybersecurity commissioner Jeff Moulton told BRProud.com Tuesday.

“While it is nearly impossible to prevent all cyberattacks, because we have prioritized improving Louisiana’s cybersecurity capabilities, we were able to quickly neutralize the threat,” Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said in a statement Tuesday.

Louisiana administrators first reported the attack at 11 a.m. Monday, as agencies shut down their websites, servers and email portals for precaution. Websites for the state’s corrections, motor vehicle, health, family services, legislature and governor’s offices were all offline.

The ransomware attack is also affecting brick-and-mortar government business. The state’s Office of Motor Vehicles locations, which first closed Monday, will remain closed to customers Wednesday.

“The majority of the service interruption seen by employees and the public yesterday was due to our aggressive actions to combat the attack,” Dardenne said. “We appreciate the public’s patience as we continue to bring services online over the next few days.”

Moulton urges state government workers — and anyone online — to avoid downloading files from emails that seem suspicious.

“Stop, think, click,” Moulton said in a text message Tuesday.

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