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By Bruce Sussman
Wed | Feb 5, 2020 | 8:59 AM PST

Remember the days before Uber?

You got into a cab, the meter started running, and you were never sure how much you would spend until you reached your destination.

The cleanup costs following a ransomware attack are kind of like that.

And the meter is still running in New Orleans. A bright yellow notice on the city's website makes that clear.

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New Orleans ransomware attack costs

The ransomware attack against the City of New Orleans hit in mid-December 2019, crippling city services like courts and healthcare and forcing the mayor to declare a state of emergency. 

Nearly two months later, IT restoration is still underway. Many payments to the city must be by cash or check. Applications of all types must be submitted on paper. The wait is long for contractors wanting to accomplish simple things.

However, we have an idea about how much the cyberattack will cost the City of New Orleans.

Chief Administrative Officer Gilbert Montaño told the city council this week that the ransomware attack will cost at least $7 million. 

How do New Orleans ransomware recovery costs break down?

Montaño says the costs for ransomware recovery break down like this:

  • $3 million to remove the malware and restore computers, get city email working again, and pay overtime for the IT staff to do all of these things
  • $4 million in costs ahead to staff a cybersecurity team, purchase new security tools, and replace outdated equipment 

Did New Orleans have cyber insurance for the ransomware attack?

One thing that gets revealed in cases like this is whether an organization or municipality had cyber insurance or some sort of cyber rider on a liability policy in place.

According to The Lens, which covers gulf coast news, the city does have some coverage, which it believes will defray some of the costs.

"The city has a cyberattack liability insurance policy that will allow it to recover $3 million out of the total $7 million in expected costs. Montaño said that the city is now beefing up its cyberattack insurance policy. He declined to share how much coverage the city was getting—[Mayor] Cantrell previously said the plan was to increase it to $10 million—nor would he give an estimate on premium increases." 

Increasingly, we hear from cybersecurity leaders at our SecureWorld conferences that cyber insurance is becoming an essential tool to limit risk.

And the market is booming. See 5 Reasons the Cyber Insurance Market Will Hit $23 Billion for more.

Which New Orleans services are still being impacted by the attack?

Real-world impacts continue for citizens of New Orleans. The Health Department is just one example:

"There will be limited connectivity and difficulty accessing files and data. Healthcare for the Homeless will begin seeing patients Thursday for medical appointments or to pick up dentures. No dental exams will be provided until electronic medical records can be accessed. All patients will be considered walk-ins because we are unable to see appointment schedules."

As you can tell, the meter is still running on ransomware costs in New Orleans. And it is unclear when the city will finally reach its destination.

[RESOURCE: New Orleans cyberattack updates for all departments, here.]

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