Ransomware Virus Took Down a California School District’s Computer System

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A ransomware virus brought down the operating infrastructure of a California school district, causing some 6,000 elementary school students to cut off distance learning, an official said.

The intrusion deactivated the Newhall School District data server and email service in Valencia, reports The Los Angeles Times.

The assault impacted all of online learning in the 10 primary schools in the district.

A ransomware attack is described by the Los Angeles County Office of Education as “malware” targeting human and technological vulnerabilities by preventing the most sensitive data and systems of an institution connectivity.

Newhall Superintendent Jeff Pelzel said he suspects that the assault happened between the late Sunday hours and early Monday morning.

“Because we’re 100 percent interactive learning, this clearly comes at a tough time for us,” Newhall Supt. Jeff Pelzel said Tuesday.

Before receiving error messages while trying to log into the district’s email server via Outlook and then a web browser, Pelzel found no emails were pushed to his smartphone Monday morning.

Via an emergency response system and Instagram, the district shut down its computers and sent notifications to parents that they should stop the district website, downloads and texts.

The district used Instagram to declare a temporary return for students to studying the pencil, notebook, and textbook.

No monetary demands had been made as from Tuesday, Pelzel said.

In order to investigate the cause of the attack, survey the damage and offer an estimate of when normal online learning could resume, the district hired an outside forensics team. Pelzel said he hoped that by Wednesday evening he would have more information.

In San Bernardino County, the Rialto Unified School District also suffered a malware attack last month.

Jennifer Thomas
Jennifer Thomas is the Co-founder and Chief Business Development Officer at Cybers Guards. Prior to that, She was responsible for leading its Cyber Security Practice and Cyber Security Operations Center, which provided managed security services.