New Orleans City Employees Shut Down Computers Amid Cyberattack

(Bloomberg) -- The city of New Orleans has been hit with a cyber-attack, and employees have been asked to turn off computers as a cautionary measure.

City employees began having problems with their computers around 11 a.m. local time, according to spokesman Beau Tidwell.

It isn’t yet clear if the cyber-attack included ransomware, in which computers are rendered inoperable until money is paid to the hacker. Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common against cities and other government agencies.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all employees were immediately alerted to power down computers, unplug devices & disconnect from WiFi. All servers have been powered down as well,” a tweet from New Orleans’ Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness said. The city’s website, Nola.gov, wasn’t accessible on Friday afternoon, but the city’s emergency services, including 911, were still operable.

The state of Louisiana was hit by a ransomware attack in November, the most significant cyber-event the state had faced, and was able to bring its systems back online in about two weeks. During testimony before the state legislature, Neal Underwood, Louisiana’s deputy chief information officer, said that the attack on the state’s computers was “sophisticated and coordinated.” It wasn’t yet known if the November cyber-attack on the state of Louisiana and the New Orleans attack are related.

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