A district within the Rockford Public Schools (RPS) system has confirmed it suffered a ransomware attack that affected parts of its network.
On 6 September, District 205 of RPS posted a statement on Facebook in which it noted that its Internet, phones and information systems used to track attendance and student records were down. The district went on to disclose how it expected the outages would have a limited effect on students. While its IT team investigated what happened, the district stated that it would reroute phone calls received by main office phone numbers to working lines.
Less than a week later, the district published an update identifying ransomware as the source of the technology outages. The statement did not identify what ransomware family had been responsible for the attack or how long the outages were likely to last. Even so, the district noted that the outages could last several days during the week of September 9.
The Rockford Public Schools district explained that staff are adjusting the way they teach and take attendance to make sure they can continue to serve students during the outage. It also noted that it’ll continue to ensure everyone’s safety during the duration of the outages. Per its most recent statement:
Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our students and staff. This includes protecting staff and students’ data and information. We have field experts helping our IT team evaluate the impact of this outage. We are working to get a complete picture of this incident and understand any impact to our data.
This incident is just the latest ransomware attack to affect a school in 2019. Near the end of July, for instance, Gadsden Independent School District announced it was working to recover from a malware infection on its network. It was less than two months later that the school district in Flagstaff, Arizona disclosed its own ransomware infection.
This incident highlights the need for organizations to defend themselves against ransomware by taking steps to prevent an infection in the first place. This resource is a great place to start.