Louisiana declares state of emergency after cyberattack

Louisiana has officially declared a state of emergency following a cybersecurity incident. The cyberattack is specifically a massive attack on school systems and has so far affected Sabine, Morehouse, and Ouachita schools in northern Louisiana. This is the first time that the state of Louisiana has declared a state of emergency for a cybersecurity breach, but due to the severity of the attack, it was an obvious decision. This cyberattack against Louisiana is just the latest in a growing string of incidents aimed at state, city, or local governments.

The state of emergency allows for numerous state resources to be deployed, including aid from cybersecurity incident experts in the Louisiana National Guard and Louisiana State Police as well as the Office of Technology Services. Additionally, according to the actual state of emergency declaration, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has been mobilized in accordance with the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act, La. R.S. 29:721.

Gov. John Bel Edwards stated the following regarding his state of emergency declaration:

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… This is exactly why we established the Cyber Security 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.

The Cyber Security Commission Gov. Edwards references was formed in 2017 and is described in a news release from Louisiana’s Office of the Governor as “a statewide partnership comprised of key stakeholders, subject matter experts, and cybersecurity professionals from Louisiana’s public sector, private industry, academia, and law enforcement.” The governor is not stating anything specific about the investigation, especially what kind of attack this is and what kind of threat actors Louisiana is dealing with (for example, whether its garden-variety cybercriminals looking for a payout or something more sinister like cyberterrorists).

According to the declaration, Gov. Edwards intends to keep the state of emergency in place until August 21 “unless terminated sooner.” Until more information comes out, there is little else one can do but speculate of what is occurring in Louisiana. Hopefully, more information will come out as the incident response teams get things under control.
Featured image: Flickr/ Ken Lund

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