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Experts say same virus used in November's state hack may be culprit of NOLA cyberattack

10 months 1 week 2 days ago Wednesday, December 18 2019 Dec 18, 2019 December 18, 2019 6:32 AM December 18, 2019 in News
Source: The Advocate
NOLA Mayer LaToya Cantrell addresses concerns related to the Dec. 13 cyberattack Photo: WWNO

NEW ORLEANS – New Orleans officials have yet to reveal extensive details on the cyberattack that crippled the city’s government last Friday.

But according to The Advocate, cybersleuths say they've identified the bug that was most likely used to disable state computers.

They say it’s Ryuk, a ransomware virus that encrypts a computer’s files and then demands payment to decrypt them. Hackers typically demand that victims pay them in Bitcoin.

If Ryuck sounds familiar, this is because it's the same bug that was used to attack state government servers last month, an incident that some state departments are still working to recover from.

An Indianapolis firm called Red Flare Security is credited with discovering the link between Ryuk and the New Orleans hack.

And Red Flare isn’t alone in its analysis of the situation. According to The Advocate, other cybersecurity experts agree with Red Flare’s assessment of Ryuk as the weapon that was used to cripple New Orleans' computers.

If experts are correct, this means that long before last Friday, malware was creeping through government servers, scooping up user names and password data, preparing to wreak havoc.

The Advocate says when it reached out to Mayor LaToya Cantrell's office with this updated information on Tuesday, a representative responded with the following statement:  

“The forensic investigation into this incident is active and ongoing, and the city is working closely with our state and federal partners in that process. We have no further comment at this time."

Though the mayor's office remains mum on whether or not Ryuk has been officially identified as the weapon used in the cyberattack, Mayor Cantrell has said that computer systems are likely to be restored next week.

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