Update on cyber attack at City Hall

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NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell joined the City’s Chief Information Officer and our Louisiana National Guard partner in updating residents on the continued efforts by City agencies and partners in the response to the cyber-security incident that occurred Dec. 13.

City Hall continues operations this week with normal business hours.

“While we are continuing with the forensic investigation, continuing with the recovery operations, we’re still operating and running the government. Key to that is paying your employees, for example. It is absolutely a yeoman’s task, it’s almost like an onion. As we go and dig deeper, it’s layer after layer after layer. It speaks to what we are preparing ourselves for as we move toward the new year,” said Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

“Despite all of the preventative measures to avert an attack, we know that our detection, immediate actions and a well orchestrated response plan has put the city in the best and most resilient position to recover from the attack with the best possible outcomes. That plan does include a thorough analysis of any remaining threats and a methodical approach to remediation that does not expose us to further risks,” said Chief Information Officer Kimberly LaGrue. “That said, we have prioritized the way we bring electronic systems back online to give us the best possible chance to defend against future attacks, which means building stronger. While our public safety teams are fully operational, we want to reduce the manual processes and backlogs as quickly as possible, gain access to our cloud-based financial system and then turn on systems that allow us to speed up processing of permitting in advance of our upcoming special events.”

LaGrue also noted that other systems will be turned on and/or brought back online in the safest manner possible. The goal is to be thorough in the City’s approach and rebuild even stronger than before. The city’s website is being constantly updated with information as the City brings electronic systems back online.

While the City has continued to increase efforts to bring the system back online, Lt. Col. Steve Durel of the Louisiana National Guard said that the City is trying to do in a week what many similar systems need weeks or months to accomplish.

Individual agencies and departments continue to be impacted in various ways, as detailed below. The Emergency Operations Center will remain activated to facilitate interagency response throughout this cyber-security incident.

While nola.gov services remain limited, the homepage has been redesigned to provide links to more City services than were previously available. Residents can make 3-1-1 requests for service; pay sales, use, and parking taxes; and pay parking and camera tickets.

The Information Technology & Innovation (ITI) team continues to work to restore all operations to normal. The ITI team this week has been coordinating with the Louisiana National Guard — which has as many as 75 people on-site, including guardsman and industrial partners — as well as an assembled advisory committee of local partners.

The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) continues normal operations. Communications through the Orleans Parish Communications District are effective and efficient. The department is documenting incidents manually. Body-worn cameras and in-car camera footage continue to record and plans are in place to ensure the preservation of footage. Temporarily, NOPD will not be able to process public records requests.

The New Orleans Fire Department emergency response is not affected, and firefighters are responding as normal to all calls.

New Orleans Emergency Medical Services (EMS) response operations have not been impacted. There may be a delay for non-emergency business matters. Residents are asked to call 3-1-1 for non-emergency requests until department phone lines are restored. EMS-related business emails can be sent to noems.public@gmail.com.

The City’s public safety cameras are functional and are recording.

The Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) system has remained operational throughout this event. Citizens who wish to submit NOLA-311 requests online should do so at www.nola311.org until the incident is resolved. OPCD continues to work closely with other City of New Orleans public safety agencies to offer assistance where needed.

Monthly sales tax payments are due on Friday, Dec. 20. Since the City’s systems are down, taxpayers have the option of filing tax forms at Parish EFile or Sales Tax Online. The Department of Revenue will service taxpayers in person at City Hall and will accept payments by cashier or personal check and money order. This can be done in person or by mail. City Hall employees will be paid on time.

Juvenile Court is now holding hearings with increased functionality using wireless hot spots and laptop computers. Municipal and Traffic Court have reopened; however, any resident who has a court notice to appear from Dec. 13 to Jan. 1, 2020, SHOULD NOT appear. The Court will send a notice with a new date to appear. Also, the District Attorney’s Office, Criminal District Court, and the Sheriff’s Office will operate as normal.

There is no anticipated impact to the Department of Sanitation operations. Enforcement Rangers will track violations manually on paper records.

The City will continue to clean catch basins and address potholes. Reports will be made manually.

The Department of Safety and Permits will be scheduling inspections manually while services are down. Community members should use the following phone numbers Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. or call 3-1-1 24/7 to schedule inspections:

Vieux Carre Commission is asking that applicants come to City Hall to apply for permits manually and provide physical copies of all plans and specifications. Telephones are functioning, so please call staff for status reports on pending applications and to schedule any necessary meetings or site visits. Staff does not have access to electronic calendars so any reminders of previously scheduled appointments is appreciated.

Parking enforcement officials will fully support field enforcement operations, support boot returns and assisted releases, and will accept payments at the Claiborne Auto Pound Cashiering Office. Towing will be able to execute normal operations. The Department of Public Works traffic team will not be able to review or approve permits in the digital permitting system. Field operations will be tracked manually on paper. Parking officials will be unable to issue residential permit parking decals.

The Department of Parks and Parkways can receive in-person rental requests at our office located at 2829 Gentilly Blvd. between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. However, the department cannot confirm new park rentals for Armstrong Park, Jackson Square, Washington Square, Brechtel Park and Palmer Park until the system is available. Joe Bartholomew golf course is open but cannot book advance tee times. The department will accommodate golfers on a first come, first served basis.

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