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Ransomware cyberattack shuts down Richmond schools

Expert: Schools are among most-targeted by hackers
Posted at 9:43 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 22:33:48-05

RICHMOND, MICH. — A school district in Macomb County has an extended holiday break after being the victim of a cyberattack.

Richmond Community Schools were supposed to be open Thursday but ended up having to close for the rest of the week, as the district works to get their systems back up and running.

“When they went in and looked at our network systems, servers shutdown because they knew we were being attacked. We actually got a ransomware notice that said your files were being encrypted,” Superintendent Brian Walmsley said.

The school says hackers demanded $10,000, which the school did not pay.

According to the district’s website, no student or staff information was compromised, but the virus affected various parts of school buildings, including heating, telephones, copiers and other classroom technology.

It will take several days to get them back up.

“The education industry is heavily targeted because a lot of times they don’t have the funding for latest and greatest cybersecurity technologies, so they are easier targets than bigger corporate companies,” Security Engineer Maya Levine explained.

Levine is a security engineer with Check Point Software.

“We’ve seen a big uptick of targeted ransomware attacks on schools and school districts in the United States,” Levine said.

“The easiest solution is you need to have a kind of cybersecurity technology that works not just to detect different type of attacks but to prevent them. A technology that is able to recognize a new attack,” Levine added.

Though that costs money and Levine says there’s a few things schools can do in the meantime, including enforcing strong password protections and taking frequent backups of data on offline hard drives.

“The different types of attacks change year by year. Unfortunately, hackers are notorious for coming up with new things all the time,’ Levine said.

Police and the FBI are investigating the cyberattack at Richmond, right now it’s not clear where the ransomware came from.

School will be back in session on Monday.