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Ransomware Attack Forces Baltimore County Public Schools to Cancel Classes


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The school district has been relying on virtual classes to teach students during the pandemic. But it decided to cancel classes today, citing a ransomware attack, which has shut down the district's IT systems.

 

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No school due to a ransomware attack? On Wednesday, a Maryland school district said it was canceling all classes precisely because of that. 

 

A ransomware strain has taken out the IT systems at Baltimore County Public Schools, which serves more than 11,500 students. “Due to issues with our network, all Baltimore County Public Schools and offices will be closed today,” the district said over Twitter.  

 

The school system has been relying on remote learning to teach students at home during the pandemic. However, the ransomware attack has shut down the district’s website, in addition to the email and grading system, according to The Baltimore Sun. 

 

“Everything was impacted,” the district’s chief of staff Mychael Dickerson told the newspaper. “It’s extensive enough that we made this decision. We knew it wouldn’t be a quick fix.”

 

Ransomware attacks usually work by seeking out computers across the victim’s network and then encrypting all the information inside. So as a precaution, the local teacher’s association has been telling its educators to turn off all their computers. 

 

The goal of the attack is to then force the victim to pay up, usually in Bitcoin. And in some cases, the ransom demand can reach well into the six figures. However, it’s unclear whether Baltimore County Public Schools has received a ransom note yet, or if it’ll pay up.

 

The Baltimore County Government also commented on the attack, saying it hasn't been affected. "We do not have any reason to believe that Baltimore County Government systems have been compromised, but the County’s Information Technology team is closely inspecting our network and all devices out of an abundance of caution, and has put in place additional security measures," the government said in a statement.

 

In the meantime, the school district’s technology team is working to restore the affected systems. Baltimore County Public Schools says it’s the 25th largest school district in the country.

 

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