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New Orleans Is 80 Percent Recovered From Last Year’s Cyberattack, Officials Say

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Ben Depp
/
For WWNO
City Hall in downtown New Orleans.

The city of New Orleans is about 80 percent recovered from last year’s cyberattack, the city’s chief information officer said Tuesday.

The city has spent the last six months buying new computers, upgrading its security infrastructure, and making a number of other changes to prevent similar attacks in the future.

“We made very specific restrictions to our email systems and our infrastructure so that that specific thing would not happen again,” Chief Information Officer Kim LaGrue said.

The attack, which took place on Dec. 13, 2019, crippled the city’s technology infrastructure and its ability to deliver basic services. The city’s public records request system, for example, has only just been restored.

So far the city has spent $4.2 million dollars recovering from the cyber attack, Mayor LaToya Cantrell said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. It plans to spend $7.5 million by the time the recovery project is complete.

Cantrell said the recovery process will continue, but the loss of tax revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic has forced the city to prioritize the most crucial remaining upgrades. Among them: 300 new computers for city employees and upgrades to NOPD’s in-car computers.

LaGrue said the city still doesn’t know who was responsible for the cyberattack but it does know how they infiltrated the system, and has made changes to prevent that from happening in the future.

On the plus side, LaGrue said, the upgrades put in place in the wake of the cyberattack and in preparation for hurricane season allow employees to get more work done remotely as needed.

“It’s really showed we can work resiliently almost from anywhere now, with those security tools that we just put in place,” she said.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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