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Cyber Attack Takes Francis Howell Schools, Mo., Offline

A Missouri school district northwest of St. Louis moved to remote learning on Tuesday and Wednesday after unexpected activity disrupted the district's network. The district is without Internet for the rest of the week.

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(TNS) — A cyber attack disrupted Francis Howell schools' computer systems, Superintendent Kenneth Roumpos said in a message to the district's community Wednesday.

All Francis Howell schools moved to remote learning on Tuesday and Wednesday after the district said "unexpected activity" caused problems with the district's network. Law enforcement has been notified after malware was used to "encrypt certain systems."

Students will return to school on Thursday, but they will not have Internet access for at least the rest of this week.

"We notified federal law enforcement and engaged third-party computer specialists to investigate the source of the attack and confirm any impact on our systems and information," Roumpos wrote on Wednesday.

A spokesperson for the FBI's St. Louis office said the FBI does not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation and would not confirm if a report had been received.

A district spokesperson said they did not have any information to share about the attack other than what was in Roumpos' message.

Over the past two days, district staff has checked on safety systems such as key fobs, building intercoms, exterior door intercoms, fire alarms, HVAC systems and more, Roumpos wrote.

"Though our schools will not have Internet access for instructional purposes for at least the remainder of the week, we are confident that we have the appropriate workarounds in place to keep our buildings secure ..." Roumpos wrote.

Francis Howell is the latest school district in the St. Louis area to fall victim to cyber attacks.

In 2021, malware prevented Rockwood School District from accessing files on certain systems. At the time, the district described the disruption as a "data privacy incident."

Last June, a Russian ransomware gang called "CLoP" said it hacked the University of Missouri as part of a global cyber attack.

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