10 Aug 2019
School systems in Louisiana are under siege—and the culprit is in the coding. In the last three weeks, three North Louisiana school districts have found themselves impacted by a malware virus that shut down computer systems and breached district servers. In response, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has issued a state of emergency, and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness has activated its crisis action team. Declaring a state of emergency will also allow the National Guard to employ its cyber unit, which can assist the affected school districts in restoring technology and rebuilding firewalls. In the meantime, state officials have been notified and on call to provide technical support, and Louisiana State Police is taking an active role in instructing law enforcement and others on how to deal with the threat. Together with the Louisiana National Guard, the State Office of Technology Services, and other agencies, they are working to coordinate an effective response and determine a course of action. This is the first time that Louisiana has activated emergency support to respond to a cybersecurity crisis.
The Virus StrikesEddie Jones, a high school principal in the affected Sabine School District, can recall when he was first made aware of the threat. His technology supervisor received an alert on his phone about 4 a.m. Sunday—their network was using an unusually high bandwidth, especially given the time of day and the summer break. They soon discovered the ransomware virus installed on their system, although theirs was only one of several affected. According to Sabine School District, staffers at their Central Office can no longer receive calls, and parents are being redirected to call their children’s schools with questions. Jones doesn’t suspect the loss of any sensitive information, but he does know that the ransomware has attacked and destroyed files housed solely on the district servers. That includes 17 years’ worth of speeches, test schedules, master schedules, and other irreplaceable documents from over time. As state and federal agencies fight back against the threat, Louisiana school systems have started the important discussions about what to look for and how to protect themselves from future attacks.
Secure Your SystemsWhen hackers try to catch you unawares, how you respond to the threat will be critical. Will you strike hard and fast? Or will you risk it all? Our Red Team Assessment can identify the strength of your response with comprehensive, realistic cyber attack simulations. Our method makes use of multiple strategies a human attacker could use, including:
- Penetration Testing (internal and external)
- Social Engineering/Phishing Attacks (by phone, email, and in-person; we take this to the next level by attempting an actual breach of your network)
- Physical Access (perimeter sweep, building access, secure interior room access)
- Black Box (planting rogue remote-access devices in the production network)
- Secure Document Disposal (secure/common waste disposal, dumpster inspection)
- Wireless (forged authentication, encryption testing, device spoofing)