Lousiana Governor John Del Edwards declared a statewide cybersecurity emergency yesterday in response to an ongoing malware attack that struck three public school districts in Northern Louisiana.
Gov Edwards issued a declaration on the matter, claiming, "there have been severe intentional cybersecurity breaches in the Sabine, Morehouse, and City of Monroe school systems that may potentially compromise other public and private entities throughout the State of Louisiana."
In response, the Governor activated its crisis action team and the Emergency Services Function-17, including the states Cyber Security Commission, which is focused on preparing for, responding to, and preventing cyber attacks. This is the first time Louisiana has activated its emergency support function relating to cybersecurity.
This declaration makes state resources more readily available and allows for assistance from cybersecurity experts to assist local governments in responding to and preventing future data breaches.
Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard, and the state Office of Technology Services and other agencies are in the process of coordinating the response to these incidents and determining future actions for the districts.
The Monroe School District first learned of their cybersecurity issues after experiencing disruptions to its computer systems on July 8, 2019. The district is still experiencing problems with system connectivity, but they claim there is no indication that there was any unauthorized access to sensitive or private information, or that there is any public safety issue.
The Sabine Parish School District was hit by an electronic virus on Sunday, July 21, 2019, which has disabled some of their technology systems and central office phone system, leaving staffers unable to receive calls. Eddie Jones, principal of Florien High School in Sabine Parish, claims his technology supervisor was alerted about unusually high bandwidth usage on Sunday around 4 a.m., later discovering ransomware was installed on their system. He does not believe any sensitive information was lost, but he did confirm that anything housed solely on the district's servers is in fact lost. For Jones, this includes 17 years of documents he created, such as speeches, test schedules, master schedules, and much more.
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