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New Orleans city government falls victim to cyber attack

Victoria Albert

The City of New Orleans fell victim to a cyberattack that forced the shutdown of all government computers, local officials said Friday. Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she has filed a declaration of a state of emergency in response to the attack.

Officials first detected suspicious activity at approximately 5 a.m. local time, Cantrell said at a Friday press conference. At about 8 a.m., as employees started signing on, that suspicious activity increased. By 11 a.m., officials had determined the city was under cyberattack. 

"Out of an abundance of caution, all employees were immediately alerted to power down computers, unplug devices & disconnect from WiFi," the city said on its NOLA Ready Facebook page.

Representatives from police, the fire department, and emergency medical services stressed during the press conference that services were still running. They emphasized the city is more prepared than others to operate offline, given New Orleans' extensive experience with hurricanes knocking out power. 

Cantrell said that to her knowledge, no city information was compromised or lost during the attack. She added that while city officials detected ransomware, they have not received a direct request for money. 

It is not clear when the systems will be back online, or who was behind the attack. It comes just days after a cyberattack downed computers in Pensacola, Florida, following an attack at its naval base. 

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