‘Ransomware worm’ attacks White County School System

CLEVELAND — Cyber criminals have attacked the White County School District’s computer system, but quick work by the district’s IT department averted a major issue, according to Superintendent Dr. Jeff Wilson

Wilson said the system was attacked by a foreign “ransomware worm.”

The breach was discovered early Monday morning and involved an attempt to infect and take control of several of the system’s mission-critical software programs.

According to Wilson, the school’s technology staff halted the attacks, shut down the systems and began the process of determining the extent of the attack.

“It was evident that they didn’t know what they were looking for because they didn’t go after the financials specifically, they didn’t specifically go after social security numbers or any of that,” Wilson said. “The good news there is we had no student or staff data that was compromised.”

Wilson emphasized that the technology staff kept the impact from spreading by halting the attack quickly after it was discovered.

“We have a strong system firewall and will continue to investigate ways to thwart such attacks,” said Wilson. “Unfortunately, the bad guys have access to tools that make that job very difficult. We will stay vigilant.”

Wilson said the county school operates on what is known as a closed system.

“Basically, you would just about have to be in our system to break into our system,” Wilson said.

He said IT staff believes for some reason – possibly to help a student who might have needed information from home because of an illness –  hackers were able to open up an outside window to the system and get in.

Wilson said White County wasn’t the only system to get hit; a couple of other systems in the state were also attacked.