Ransomware Attack Forces School District To Cancel First Day Of Classes

By Bill Galluccio

September 8, 2020

Students in Hartford, Connecticut, will have to wait at least one more day to start the new school year after a ransomware attack shut down the district's computer system. Officials informed parents that both online and in-person classes would be postponed until further notice. 

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin told reporters that the attacker gained access to the system last Thursday (September 3) but did not do anything until Saturday, when a virus started attacking the system. The school district operates around 300 servers and the virus impacted about 200 of them.

"We have been informed by Metro Hartford Information Services (MHIS), our City of Hartford shared services team that manages our network infrastructure, that the ransomware virus caused an outage of critical systems and the restoration of those systems are not complete," the district said in a note to parents. "This includes the system that communicates our transportation routes to our bus company, and it is preventing our ability to operate schools on Tuesday."

Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said that she does not believe the hacker obtained any personal information about staff or students. She said that the system that "houses all of our student addresses, our grades, our attendance" has "been fully restored."

While progress is being made in restoring the other systems that were taken offline, officials do not have a timetable as to when classes will resume.

"This is another example of how flexible we all have to be," Torres-Rodriguez told WVIT. "We were ready, and we were excited, and we still are to receive our students and staff. This was something that was out of our control, and we're going to give it another try."

The ransomware also targeted the Hartford Police Department, but officials said the attack did not compromise public safety in any way. Authorities did not say how much the attacker asked for, or if they paid the ransom to unlock any of the systems.

Photo: Getty Images

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