New Orleans cyberattack cost will exceed $3M insurance, mayor says

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While she did not give an exact estimate of the cost, the mayor said she plans to raise the policy to $10 million next year.

NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — Mayor LaToya Cantrell says she expects the cost of Friday’s cyberattack on city computers to exceed the $3 million cyber insurance policy the city has in place. 

Computer systems owned by New Orleans city government were shut down Friday morning after engineers detected unwanted cyber activity that was later identified as ransomware — common malware that infects and locks up servers until a ransom is paid. 

City officials say they never received a ransom request, however, and all of the data impacted by the cyberattack can be recovered. However, they did not give a timetable for when the computer system will be back to full strength, and multiple public services have been affected as a result. 

As the forensic investigation into who is responsible for the ransomware attack continues, Cantrell said Wednesday that the cost to respond to the attack will exceed the insurance policy the city has in place. While she did not give an exact estimate of the cost, she said she plans to raise the policy to $10 million next year.

According to New Orleans IT Director Kimberly LaGrue, the activity was first detected around 5 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 13. When employees arrived for work around 8 a.m., the suspicious activity increased and by 11 a.m. employees were notified that a cyberattack was underway.

City Council President Helena Moreno admits it’s hard to gauge how soon city computers will be restored.

“When you have around 4,000 computers impacted and to bring just one computer back, apparently, it takes several hours to half-a-day,” City Council President Helena Moreno said. “Just think about that times 4,000.”

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) continues normal operations. Communications through the Orleans Parish Communications District are effective and efficient. The department is documenting incidents manually. Body-worn cameras and in-car camera footage continue to record and plans are in place to ensure the preservation of footage. Temporarily, NOPD will not be able to run background checks for the public.

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