Louisiana Gov Declares Emergency After Cyberattacks Plague Schools

Attacks on at least three school districts and likely others have prompted the state’s first emergency due to cyberattack.

After a rash of public schools were hit with ransomware, Louisiana’s governor has declared a statewide state of emergency.

School districts in the northern part of the state – including Monroe City, Morehouse Parish and Sabine Parish – have been affected. Monroe City, on its website, noted that it “experienced a disruption to its computer systems” on July 8, which it continues to feel the effects of.

“While there are problems with system connectivity, we have no reason to believe there is any public safety issue,” it said. “We also have no indication that there was any unauthorized access of sensitive or private information. We also believe that full connectivity will be restored in the near future.”

Morehouse meanwhile on its Facebook page said Tuesday that is was hit with malware last week, but that it wasn’t as affected by it as the other victims were.

“There will be no delays and all major systems, including payroll, are operational,” according to the district.

A principal in the Sabine district painted a darker story. He told a local TV station that Sabine was hit by an “electronic virus” on early Sunday morning, knocking out IT systems and its central office phone system. The systems saw “unusually high bandwidth usage,” he said, which turned out to be malware. All data on the school district’s servers was affected.

He also said that several other schools were “attacked by the same virus this week.”

In the aftermath of all of this, Gov. John Bel Edwards decided to marshal his resources and declare a state of emergency.

He said in a website statement that the move will ensure coordination between cybersecurity experts from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Office of Technology Services.

“The state was made aware of a malware attack on a few north Louisiana school systems and we have been coordinating a response ever since,” Edwards said. “This is exactly why we established the Cybersecurity Commission, focused on preparing for, responding to and preventing cybersecurity attacks, and we are well-positioned to assist local governments as they battle this current threat.”

In December 2017 the governor signed an executive order that created the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission.


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