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New Orleans cyber attack ‘triggered by phishing email’

Reports suggest the ransomware attack has already cost New Orleans over $1 million and that the city will increase cyber-insurance coverage to $10 million in its wake.

Reports suggest the ransomware attack has already cost New Orleans over $1 million and that the city will increase cyber-insurance coverage to $10 million in its wake.


A cyber attack which began on December 13 and led the City of New Orleans to declare a state of emergency is believed to have been triggered when a city employee clicked on a phishing email, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said during a press conference.


Cantrell said the city is working as quickly as possible to restore more than 450 servers and 3,500 endpoints after the ransomware attack crippled the city’s IT systems. Applications affecting public safety and financial payments are being prioritised, she noted, with the city creating a “war room” to ensure there are no knock-on effects which further impact citizen services. It is unclear how long it will take to fully restore systems.


Counting the cost

The Mayor said overall costs could not yet be determined but reports suggest the attack has already cost New Orleans over $1 million and that the city will increase its cyber-insurance coverage to $10 million from the existing $3 million policy.


It’s believed the Ryuk strain of ransomware was used in the cyber attack. The city has not received a ransom request and no data was lost.


Mayor Cantrell said that although the attack has had a “tremendous impact [on] our internal systems and electronic systems throughout city government,” it “could have been much worse”.


She said the focus would not just be on reinstating systems. “We’re building a totally new environment with significant upgrades to make us more sustainable in the future,” Cantrell commented.


The city is continuing to work with state and federal law enforcement partners to investigate the incident, including Louisiana State Police, Louisiana National Guard, FBI New Orleans and the US Secret Service.

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