Payroll Down Following Ransomware Attack on N.J. Schools

The Livingston, N.J., school district’s payroll system was still not fully functional after a ransomware attack, which forced a delayed opening of schools earlier this week, officials said Tuesday.

by Rodrigo Torrejon, NJ Advance Media Group / November 27, 2019
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(TNS) — The Livingston, N.J., school district’s payroll system is still not fully functional after a ransomware attack, which forced a delayed opening of schools on Monday, officials said Tuesday.

 

Over the weekend, Superintendent Matthew Block announced that hackers had attacked the district’s computer servers with a ransomware virus. When a ransomware virus is deployed, a user’s data is locked or becomes unusable until money, or a ransom, is paid.

The attack affected the district’s internet, staff email, phone system, Genesis, Schoology and the payroll system, a district spokesperson said. By Monday afternoon, internet access, staff email and direct phone lines in all the schools were restored, the spokesperson said. Schoology, the district’s online learning platform, was also working.

The payroll system was not included in the list of functional systems.

The district reported the attack to police at 11:15 a.m. Thursday, Livingston police said in a statement. Neither the police nor the school district have said what the requested ransom was. The district declined to say whether it would pay the ransom.

Local governments and school districts have become favorite targets of hackers’ ransomware attacks, due to often lagging security and a lack of IT staff. Many municipalities and districts have aging computer systems and often use third-party IT vendors for tech support.

The lack of a dedicated staff, often insufficient security and few contingency plans often compel towns and school districts to pay up to hackers.

Livingston is the latest district hit by hackers.

In January, $200,000 was stolen from the Galloway Township public school district in a “cybersecurity incident,” authorities said. And just a week before the attack on Livingston school district, government computer systems in Union and Morris counties also suffered cyberattacks, officials said.

©2019 NJ Advance Media Group, Edison, N.J. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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