Cyber security expert breaks down ransomware attacks

MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency following a cyber-attack on Nov. 18.

An apparent “ransomware” virus infected 1,500 of the state’s 30,000 computers last week. Source: (MGN)

An apparent “ransomware” virus infected 1,500 of the state’s 30,000 computers.

This was the second state of emergency following a cyber-attack on multi-parish school systems back in July.

KNOE sat down with Ieshea Jones, the Founder/CEO of Direnzic Technology and Consulting, LLC who said that these types of attacks have become more common and can happen anywhere.

"We’ve had several cities and or states that have been affected we're talking port authorities that have been hacked,” Jones said.

The system is infiltrated and information is held hostage until a ransom is paid in a ransomware attack. In this case, the virus put a special passcode on state data. Jones said the breach can happen for a variety of reasons.

“Usually it’s either activated by someone, activated an email or clicked on something that maybe they should not have and it deployed something on to your system,” Jones said.

The computers were disconnected from the servers in an attempt to prevent any further infection. Afterwards, a state of emergency was declared to further investigate the attack, which, is an all hands on deck effort.

“How did it transpire and how do we get everybody back online as quickly as possible while we're trying to mitigate the issue at hand," Jones said.

Cyber-attacks can affect daily operations forcing businesses and organizations to close until the issue is resolved.

“As we saw with the Department of Motor Vehicles they could not print out driver’s licenses, you couldn’t get deeds, things like that,” Jones said.

According to Jones, in some cases after a cyber-attack, a digital forensics team can be used to find the “culprit,” do ransom negotiations and offer the next steps for legal actions.