The attacks shut down the districts’ phones, as well as locked and encrypted files and computer equipment in school districts in Sabine, Morehouse and Ouachita parishes in North Louisiana. As a result, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared the emergency on Wednesday (July 24) as the threat is “ongoing.” Federal law enforcement is helping in the investigation.
“The Sabine Parish School System was hit with an electronic virus early Sunday morning,” reads a statement on the school district’s website, according to CNBC. “This virus has disabled some of our technology systems and our central office phone system. The district staff reported this electronic viral attack to local law enforcement, state officials and the FBI. All available resources are being utilized to get the district systems back on line. An investigation involving local, state and federal law enforcement is ongoing at this time.”
The emergency declaration allows the state to access resources from the state’s national guard, technology office, state police and other organizations, according to a statement from the governor’s office.
“The state was made aware of a malware attack on a few north Louisiana school systems and we have been coordinating a response ever since,” Edwards said. “This is exactly why we established the Cyber Security Commission, focused on preparing for, responding to and preventing cybersecurity attacks, and we are well-positioned to assist local governments as they battle this current threat.”
Numerous cities and states have been hit with cyberattacks. Last year, hackers managed to break into Baltimore’s dispatch system that supports emergency calls, which came a week after Atlanta experienced a “ransomware” attack that impacted some city services, such as bill collections and airport Wi-Fi. And a virus shut down the entire network of a county in Ohio back in 2017, including that of the local police force. A financial demand was made to restore everything back to normal.