Malware Attack Follows Hurricane Ida Landfall

Robert LilesCybersecurityLeave a Comment

A hurricane is a formidable force of nature. These storms can be massive, affecting multiple countries, and inflicting tens of billions of dollars in damage. Residents of Florida and the Gulf Coast know all too well how treacherous these storms can be—this ranges from the stress of either weathering or evacuating from the storm to the catastrophic loss in property or life.

While the full brunt of the storm can last several hours at any set location, what the hurricane leaves in its wake can last days, weeks, or even many months. Such is the case in Hurricane Ida. This storm formed in the Caribbean Sea in late August, and quickly intensified to a Category 4 before striking Louisiana, dealing heavy damage to the state. The storm veered northeast and struck heavily populated corridors in the Mid-Atlantic, including Greater New York City and the Philadelphia Metropolitan Area.

Every state adversely affected was left with a mess the storm left behind, including floodwaters, damaged infrastructure, crippled transportation, destroyed buildings, toppled trees, power outages, and getting aid to those who urgently needed it. Amid this chaos, however, one story slipped in almost unnoticed—cybercriminals took advantage of disaster downtime.

Intangible Infrastructure Damage

Louisiana’s Jefferson Parish is part of the New Orleans Metropolitan Area and includes many of its western and southern suburbs, as well as undeveloped bayous and the Gulf Shore barrier island community of Grand Isle. This parish sat squarely in Ida’s path and was hit on August 29. The hurricane caused extensive damage throughout the New Orleans area, including significant destruction in Jefferson Parish.

Ida knocked out power and internet connections throughout Jefferson Parish. This left some of the courts in the area vulnerable. What followed was a cyberattack against some of the parish’s courts—the 1st and 2nd Parish Courts and the 24th Judicial District Courts in particular were hurt. JeffNet, the online database these courts use for caseload management, was compromised in the attack.

Clerk of Court Jon Gegenheimer issued a statement, attributing the power outage to the cyberattack’s success. The court has been working diligently to restore its database and digital operations. They have called in the services of law enforcement and a cybersecurity forensics firm to help find the source of the cyberattack. The courts were closed in anticipation of the storm, and would likely have been closed for a short period after the storm had passed, but the cyberattack prolonged the courts’ closures until at least September 20.

Protecting Intangible Assets

Much of society’s reliance today is on information and data that can withstand hurricane-force winds and any deluge. However, in the case of the aforementioned courts in Jefferson Parish, the reliance on infrastructure that cannot withstand a storm led to an additional headache beyond storm damage.

While this was not the situation in this Jefferson Parish instance, data loss can happen due to physical damage to the storage device, whether that is from water exposure or a power surge. When residents are forced to clean up and rebuild after a natural disaster, they already have enough to worry about—their intangible assets should not add to the heap of their anxieties.

Whether you need data recovery, a comprehensive data security solution, or digital forensics, SecureData offers a respectable list of services to help customers with their needs. To learn more about safeguarding your data when (or before) disaster strikes, call us today at 1-800-520-1677 to speak to one of our data security experts.