Students at Livingston High School arrived to class two hours later than usual to begin the new week. The delayed start was necessary as administrators and staff discussed how to get a handle on a cyber attack affecting the district’s entire computer system. The New Jersey public school district is working to restore its computer system following a cyber attack on Monday. Administrators said hackers took over the network, and our experts say this is a growing problem.
Officials said hackers broke into the network on Thursday, infecting it with ransomware and taking data hostage from all nine schools in the district, affecting 6,000 students. The data is not stolen or lost, just locked and inaccessible. School authorities reported the crime to local police and have tasked tech professionals with fixing the issue. By late Monday morning, email and internet were usable, but the full phone system and some other technology remained down. The Livingston superintendent is hopeful things will feel back to normal for students by December break. The school district says it does have insurance for cyber attacks, which should be pay for at least some of the recovery expenses.
Schools are targets for Cybercriminals
The FBI calls ransomware the fastest growing malware threat in America; Fabre Technologies Cyber security experts agrees. We believe most schools don’t do enough to keep sensitive information secured.
Back in September, an emergency alarm sounded at a school in Orange County, N.Y., allowing staff to shut down the system before hackers could seize it. And over the summer, Rockville Centre schools in Nassau County paid a hacker $100,000 in bitcoin to get its data back. Leonie Haimson, with the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, says children’s data is some of the most valuable data to deal because they don’t have any credit ratings.
We recommend school districts and companies back up data on a daily basis to a remote server, so if it happens to become the next victim of ransomware it wouldn’t have to pay hackers to unlock the information. Therefore, the Livingston school district should be careful about if their data had been protected from this ransomware successfully.