Cyber security expert says ransomware attacks are more common than you might think

Updated: Jan. 20, 2020 at 9:20 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - We’ve been hearing a lot about cyber attacks lately. First, the state got hit, then the City of New Orleans and now the Morial Convention Center

“Hackers are getting better at tricking people into clicking their links or opening their attachments so people really need to be more aware of who is sending them email,” said cybersecurity expert Nam Nguyen.

The City of New Orleans says an attack on its network a month ago had a more than $7-million impact. The Mayor says the city will be able to recover $3-million of that from its cybersecurity insurance policy.

“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 New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell.

The Convention Center says it too had a cyber risk insurance policy.

“Our insurance carrier has cyber experts who deal with these things exclusively around the country and they’ve been engaged and they’re currently doing their analysis and making sure we are in the best position to recover from this,” said Michael Sawaya, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center President.

Ransomware was detected in both attacks.

“Ransomware is a form of malware that when it gets on your computer it locks up all your files. It encrypts them and it says look, contact this organization, email address or pay this ransom in bitcoin or digital currency and we will give you the key to unlock your files,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen says cyber-attack insurance policies are becoming more common especially when you consider data breaches can lead to fines or even lawsuits.

“Cyber insurance was a very smart move that the city did. Any organization that deals with people’s data, personal information or things that could cost them a lot if it were to be disclosed; that’s what cybersecurity insurance does for you, it helps cover you with the fallout or the recovery of such action,” said Nguyen.

The president of the Convention Center says they’re confident no customer data was affected by the cyber attack. He adds that information is encrypted so he says there is no concern that sensitive financial information was impacted.

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