Jefferson Co. School System victim of ransomware attack during Spring Break

The attack has temporarily forced the district to use “the old ways” to teach and keep track of students
Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 4:09 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - A ransomware attack targeted the Jefferson County School System over Spring Break.

A news release states the district’s technology team took immediate steps to stop the attack and notified state and local authorities.

Preliminary investigations have not revealed any evidence of a breach of sensitive personally identifiable information. However, the district will continue to investigate any possibility of compromised data and notify stakeholders accordingly if discovered. Outside cybersecurity experts and law enforcement officials are assisting.

While law enforcement is working to find the individuals or group behind the attack, the school is working on moving past it. A task that has proven tough in today’s digital age.

“You don’t realize how much you rely upon technology until you are not able to use it,” said Superintendent Dr. Walter Gonsoulin.

The attackers encrypted the school’s data and effectively stripped the district of the ability to use technology to teach.

“We have gone back to the old school way of doing things. The paper and pencil, and it shows up even in our cafeteria.”

As well as in the classroom. A challenge not just for the students, but some of the educators.

“Its nothing new to people who have been in the business for over fifteen to twenty years. Now our one to five year teachers, this is the dinosaur ages for them right? But we are working through that as well with them.”

Superintendent Gonsoulin later now stressing they will take their time in putting the new system online and that their previous system had a variety of defense measures in place. The district points to filtering technology, firewalls, and antivirus systems. All of which, they say were critical in recognizing the attack.

“Our technology department is working hard and they will probably have it up in the near future but I wanted to take a couple extra days just to be careful and give them time to do it right.”

As far as the attackers the district did receive a ransom notification and a specific amount of money was not named. The district says they did not engage in communication and stressed they are working with law enforcement to find out who did this.

Get news alerts in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store or subscribe to our email newsletter here.