The Department of Health, Office of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation and Development, and Various Other State Services Impacted in the Face of a Ransomware Attack.

On November 18, 2019, the State Government of Louisiana was hit by a ransomware attack that forced numerous websites, as well as Internet and email services, to shut down. The Department of Health, Department of Transportation and Development, and 79 Office of Motor Vehicle locations were among the impacted state services. State officials say the root cause is what’s known as the RYUK ransomware – an infection that demands money from the victim.

ransomware Louisiana

What is the State Government of Louisiana Doing to Resolve the Ransomware Attack?

Governor John Bel Edwards stated in a tweet that he’s tasked the state’s cybersecurity team to coordinate efforts to resolve the ransomware attack. Cybersecurity Commissioner Jeff Moulton stated that the RYUK ransomware was installed via an unapproved software download. Similar to many incidents of ransomware infection, it all resulted from a simple human error.

He also mentioned the estimated number of computers affected to be around 1,600 across 132 servers. Fortunately, no personal data was disclosed or compromised during the event. Chief Information Security Officer Dustin Glover explained, “In this particular instance as with most ransomware, the goal of the attacker is to lock you out of your data to get some money. It’s monetary based.”

The Impact of the Ransomware Attack on Various Websites, Internet, and Email Services…

As mentioned, the Department of Health, Department of Transportation and Development, and 79 Office of Motor Vehicle locations were among the impacted state services. All business was halted for the state’s 79 OMV locations and employees at the Louisiana Department of Health were instructed to disconnect their computers. Many trucking companies are unable to operate as they’re left struggling to visit the DOTD website for various permits.

The impact of the ransomware attack was huge – forcing a massive number of state employees to stop what they’re doing. Deputy Chief Information Officer Neal Underwood mentioned they’re in the process of visiting each and every workstation around the state to remove the ransomware prior to opening the offices again.

How Can You Prevent a Ransomware Attack That Completely Halts Your Operations?

Ransomware is all about prevention. You need to work with an IT company that specializes in cybersecurity to prevent threats from entering the network. A multi-layered approach to cybersecurity is essential:

  1. Enterprise-grade security solutions such as firewalls, anti-virus software, web content filtering, intrusion detection software, encryption, and more to prevent unauthorized access.
  2. Regular training for employees to ensure they’re aware of how to detect a threat, such as a spear phishing email, and how to adequately respond to it, as well as teach them general best practices.
  3. Data backup and business continuity planning that keep all of your important applications and data backed up and ready to recover so you never have to pay a ransom should an infection occur.

We’re all one simple human error away from a ransomware infection that takes down our operations. Get the right security solutions in place and train your employees to detect and respond to threats properly. We can help.