Cyber security expert weighs in on recent LA OMV cyberattack

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Two weeks ago, several Louisiana DMV’s were the victim of a ransomware attack that hit computer servers and disrupted critical functions across the state.

Many of the DMV branch locations remain closed as state workers try to recover.

News 10 spoke with a cyber security expert about the recovery process and why the government industry continues to be a prime target.

Kierk Sanderlin, Head of Engineering with Check Point Software, said, “Typically, what we see is that malware like a virus gets introduced into the environment and it may be delivered through an email like a phishing email. It may be a link embedded on a website, but somebody clicks on something. Somebody opens the file that contains this malware which ultimately infects their mobile device laptop.”

Louisiana’s Office of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Karen St. Germain told The Advocate that 28 percent of her agency’s 79 locations are up and running, and another six planned to open Monday. St. Germain says officials worked through the thanksgiving weekend on service restorations and the agency is opening offices “as fast as we possibly can.”

Sanderlin explained, “What happens is once the malware is introduced into that environment, it takes many, many months before ransomware is actually run against all of the computers. The hackers have to map out the network. So, they move around silently after the initial infection until such a time as they’re ready to launch that ransomware campaign.”

News 10 asked Sanderlin, “Should Louisiana residents here be concerned about this most recent cyber attack at DMV locations?”

He replied, “I think that in cyber security, we all hold some level of responsibility. We have on our laptops or on our home desktop system, sometimes we put antivirus software on them or a personal firewall on them. We need to do the same thing for our mobile devices, and we have to be more conscious of the emails that get sent to our inbox and what we click on and where we go. We have to have better cyber hygiene, but we also have to have some tools on devices that we carry us with all the time to help protect us against these modern threats.”

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