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Louisiana Ransomware Update: 75% of Motor Vehicle Offices Still Closed

Louisiana is still reeling from last month’s ransomware attack on the state’s servers as nearly 75 percent of its motor vehicle offices are still closed, reports said.

Only 28 percent of the state’s 79 motor vehicle offices are operational following the cyber extortion that sidelined government servers more than two weeks ago, according to Karen St. Germain, Commissioner of Louisiana’s Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV). None of the motor vehicles offices are yet fully functional, she told The Advocate, a Baton Rouge media outlet.

The attack is thought to have been carried out by hacker pros, preying opportunistically on under-funded state government agencies, authorities said.

Complicating the OMV recovery is restoring 40-year old legacy computer systems, which have to be wiped and software reinstalled. Exacerbating the problem is the aged network is not accepting the reimage, St. Germain said.

Officials did not say when all OMV offices would be open for business and fully operational. “It’s just a fluid situation,” Nick Manale, a public affairs lieutenant with Louisiana State Police, told The Advocate. “They’re literally having to go to each computer at each office and reimage it and get it back online.”

The attacker struck on Monday, November 18, sparked by an employee opening a malicious link. Officials responded by halting network traffic to impede the infection. One day later the state’s websites and many online government services were restored. In the cyber infiltration’s wake, Governor John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and activated the state’s cybersecurity response team. Bel Edwards said the state has not paid a ransom or lost data and officials termed the attack “largely unsuccessful.” There has been no word if the cyber kidnapper made a ransom demand.

The state government ransomware attack followed a similar assault that hit the state’s school system earlier this year.

Of note, Kyle Ardoin, Lousiana’s Secretary of State, said the state’s election system was not affected by the attack.

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