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Gov. Edwards declares state of emergency in response to Monroe, Morehouse schools cybersecurity breaches

(KOTA)
Published: Jul. 24, 2019 at 5:42 PM CDT
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Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a state of emergency in response to cybersecurity breaches affecting schools in Monroe, Morehouse Parish, and Sabine Parish. The declaration was issued on July 24, 2019.

The declaration states, in part: "there have been severe, intentional cybersecurity breaches in the Sabine, Morehouse, and City of Monroe school systems that may potentially compromise other public and private entities throughout the State of Louisiana."

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“The state was made aware of a malware attack on a few north Louisiana school systems and we have been coordinating a response ever since,” Gov. Edwards said. “This is exactly why we established the Cyber Security Commission, focused on preparing for, responding to and preventing cybersecurity attacks, and we are well-positioned to assist local governments as they battle this current threat.”

When we contacted Monroe Schools Superintendent Brent Vidrine after the declaration was issued, he would only refer us to the message posted on the school system's website.

It reads as follows:

"On July 8, 2019, the Monroe City School System experienced a disruption to its computer systems. We immediately notified our Information Technology service providers and retained independent, third-party cybersecurity experts to investigate this matter.

"While there are problems with system connectivity, we have no reason to believe there is any public safety issue. We also have no indication that there was any unauthorized access of sensitive or private information. We also believe that full connectivity will be restored in the near future.

"We have notified law enforcement and are cooperating with authorities to assist their investigation. That investigation is ongoing."

According to a news release from the governor's office, the declaration makes available state resources and allows for assistance from cybersecurity experts from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Office of Technology Services and others to assist local governments in responding to and preventing future data loss. The state is in contact with parish school systems and governments across the state to assess further areas that may be at risk.

The rest of the news release from the governor's office is as follows:

The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has activated its Crisis Action Team and also the Emergency Services Function-17 to coordinate the response to this cybersecurity incident. So far, the state is coordinating with the FBI, state agencies and higher education partners.
In 2017, Gov. Edwards established the Louisiana Cybersecurity Commission which is a statewide partnership comprised of key stakeholders, subject matter experts, and cybersecurity professionals from Louisiana’s public sector, private industry, academia, and law enforcement.
This is the first activation of Louisiana’s emergency support function relating to cybersecurity, which is newly created in Louisiana, in anticipation of the threat of cyber attacks. Right now, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana National Guard, GOHSEP, the state Office of Technology Services, and other agencies are coordinating the response and determining future actions.

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