COVINGTON, La. — The city of Covington’s computers were hacked. They lost all access to services including Police, Fire, Finance, and Public Works. Phone call and e-mail access systems have been locked due to the cyber attack.
“I started my morning with my second cup of coffee and checked my e-mails and they didn’t come up,” Mark Johnson, the Mayor of Covington said.
That’s when he contacted their I-T Department and realized City Government systems had been hacked.
“All our systems locked up, fire, police, public works, utility, finance, and the phone systems,” he said.
He says the State Cyber Security Alliance stepped in.
“They are now here at City Hall taking the computers apart. They are digging through them trying to determine what the hackers did, and if anything was taken and how much,” he said.
It is still unclear what the motive was, but they are speculating that it is ransomware.
“They would ask us to pay a sum of money to have our systems unlocked,” he said.
For the City of Government, it is mainly affecting business as usual. Customers can’t pay their utility bills right now. 911 services are still operational. Tulane Cyber Security Expert Bill Rials says when an attack like this happens, personal information can be compromised.
“A potential for addresses, phone numbers, account records, tax records, any type of service that a government would have access to,” Rials said.
He says ransomware attacks are more common than people think.
“A ransomware attack happens every 11 seconds. Don’t think a matter of if, but when,” Rials said.
Now it is a matter of time until the City of Covington’s systems are back up and running.
“Expect that to last a few days, it is a significant attack,” the Mayor said.
For non-emergency issues, the City of Covington is asking residents to text “CPDLA” followed by your message to 847411. That text will be anonymously sent to the Covington Police Department.