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Governor declares state of emergency in wake of cyberattack

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BATON ROUGE -  Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in the wake of a ransomware attack earlier this week.

The declaration will allow agencies to take actions such as waiving fees and fines. The governor's office says the declaration specifically allows the heads of the Office of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation and Development and the Department of Revenue to take certain actions that will assist members of the public affected by the service interruption.

About 10 percent of the state's 5,000 computer network servers were damaged in the cyberattack this week. State officials told the Associated Press Friday that along with the damaged servers, more than 1,500 of the state's 30,000 computers were damaged in the attack. 

While no data was said to be lost in the ransomware attack, the response, which involved cutting off Louisiana from external server access, has left some agencies in a state of disarray. 

Staffers have been working all week to restore the state's network after the attack, which began with a worker making an unauthorized download on a state computer. Though most online government services have been restored, the attack has forced the Office of Motor Vehicles to close its locations across the state. Governor John Bel Edwards said he doesn't expect those offices to reopen until Monday at the earliest.

Sen. Francis Thompson, a Democrat from Delhi, told the AP that the attack likely came from outside the country. 

“This was a sophisticated and coordinated attack,” he said. “This was not some malcontent teenager in their parents’ basement.”

State police have said they would use "discretion" when encountering anyone with a recently expired license or registration. 

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