California School District’s Servers Down After Cyberattack

A ransomware attack has left San Bernardino City Unified School District computer servers inaccessible, with no estimate for restoration. Officials have declined to disclose the ransom demands to unlock the system.

by Richard K. De Atley, San Bernardino County Sun / October 22, 2019
Shutterstock/Timofeev Vladimir

(TNS) — A ransomware attack over the weekend left San Bernardino, Calif., City Unified School District computer servers inaccessible, with no estimate for restoration.

Officials on Monday, Oct. 21, declined to disclose the ransom demands to unlock the system.

The district said it was working “with law enforcement and a third-party expert to restore the network. ” district spokeswoman Corina Borsuk wrote in an email.

The district announced Sunday that faculty and staff were locked out of their emails and classes would have to proceed without Wi-Fi and other tech-based tools when classes resumed Monday. SBCUSD has 72 schools with some 53,000 students.

Student and related family data were safe. That content is hosted on a third-party platform with its own servers, which were not affected, the district said in a statement.

Ransomware invasions allow hackers to gain control and access to computers and their stored data. The attackers then demand a ransom to release control of the devices. The district was first alerted to the attack early Saturday, officials said.

“It’s true that there are significant challenges to access the district network because the district systems are down,” District Safety/Emergency Manager Eric Vetere said. “However, student data has not been compromised.”

Functioning Monday were school phones and student meal service, as well as lighting and air conditioning systems, the district said.

The telephone system for the district’s Transportation Department, which coordinate school buses were “briefly affected,” the district said, but bus operator Durham School Services transported students without interruption and that system has since been restored, Borsuk wrote.

“We are committed to doing all we can to continue serving our families and to strengthening our systems so something like this doesn’t happen again,” Superintendent Dale Marsden said in a statement.

“As part of the ongoing investigation, SBCUSD cannot disclose the ransom demands,” Borsuk wrote.

While the district’s email system is down, officials recommend students and their families follow the district on Twitter @SB_CitySchools, on Instagram @sbcusd, and at www.facebook.com/SanBernardinoUSD for updates.

©2019 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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