City of New Orleans says it will take months to recover from recent cyber attack

Updated: Jan. 15, 2020 at 4:02 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The City of New Orleans says the recent cyber attack on its networks had a more than seven million dollar impact, a number Mayor Latoya Cantrell says continues to grow. But, she adds the city will be able to recover three million of that from a cyber security insurance policy purchased before the attack.

“This is something that we have to deal with as a city and it is an expense that we also have to eat as a city. It speaks to the priority of infrastructure that has always been a priority of mine and it also speaks to the real push for maintenance of infrastructure. This will be ongoing,” said Cantrell.

The city says sophisticated ransomware was behind the attack. But no ransom has been demanded or paid in the last month since it happened.

“The early detection and the intrusion helped us one, IT halt our networks, shut it down completely, which prevented this cyber attack from being catastrophic,” Cantrell said.

But, Gilbert Montano, the city’s Chief Administrative Officer, says they’re now dealing with a significant backlog from manually operating city government. And, it will take months to rebuild their network.

“Now, we’re in the stabilization period. We are trying to rebuild what we had to turn off essentially and that is a long, laborious, time-sensitive process and that’s where I am telling staff and employees we’re looking maybe at a six to eight month window before actual normalcy starts to integrate all of our systems,” said Montano.

Included in the millions the city will spend to recover from the cyber attack are buying new computers and improving the city’s IT infrastructure.

“Cleaning over 3400 computers was necessary in that recovery. We realized we would lose some of those computers because we also build a stronger cyber security platform and on that new platform certain antiquated devices just could not be recovered, would not operate in this new platform,” said the city’s Chief Information Officer, Kim LaGrue.

The deadline to pay property taxes has been pushed back to February 14 because of the cyber attack. The city says those taxes can be paid online.

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