With much of the U.S. getting a crash course in remote learning over the last few months, cybercriminals are taking advantage and are taking municipal networks hostage and are banking on getting paid given how critical that technology is right now.
That is currently now affecting schools in Hartford, Conn. after a ransomware attack delayed the first day of school for both online and in-person students. The attack caused an outage of critical IT systems, and they weren’t restored in time for school, the city’s school department said in a statement.
One of the affected systems in the communication between the school department and the bus company.
“Everyone at Hartford Public Schools was ready to welcome back our beautiful and capable students in person and remotely,” the school district said. “We will provide updates when we have additional information to share.”
The city’s main newspaper, The Hartford Courant, reported that a recent investment in cybersecurity minimized the damage of the virus.
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Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said an investment in new cyber security software last year minimized the damage of the virus, which identified itself as a ransomware attack but did not include a specific demand. Instead, it directed its target to use an email address to get more information on the ransom, which “needless to say,” the city did not do, Bronin said.
The city spent between $400,000 and $500,000 last year on the extra layer of defense, which helps detect malicious activity. Bronin said the security software detected this attack early, allowing the city to lock down its vulnerable systems, some of which were still being restored Tuesday.
Tuesday was supposed to be the first day of school for both online learning and the first in-person classes since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down physical classes in March.
According to the school department’s website, Pre-K through Grade 2, Grade 6 and Grade 9 were scheduled to start school Tuesday in what the school system calls a “staggered” opening.
Students have the ability to opt out of in-person learning in favor of completely remote learning as well as hybrid learning.