A ransomware attack Wednesday on the network information systems at Baltimore County Public Schools in Maryland has forced the district to close all schools to instruction until the matter is resolved, The Baltimore Sun reports.
As the school system’s website is among the affected systems, we are not providing links inside the BCPS website.
The district had been operating under an all-remote model, and the systems affected include parts where grades are sent to parents and students, where teachers develop their lesson plans, and where communication between teachers and students is conducted during remote learning.
Students were advised via robocalls and the district’s Twitter account not to turn on their school-provided computers or connect to the school system’s website electronically, and many of them have removed district-provided apps from their other devices as a precaution.
BCPS can now confirm we were the victim of a Ransomeware attack that caused systemic interruption to network information systems. Our BCPS technology team is working to address the situation & we will continue to provide updates as available. For now, please don’t use BCPS device
— Baltimore County Public Schools (@BaltCoPS) November 25, 2020
The remote learning model, which relies on the network that has been compromised, may be adjusted. Such an attack during the pandemic has threatened the physical safety of our teachers and students and has jeopardized the education of about 115,000 students.
(2/2) We will continue communicating through our official social media accounts and the phone notification systems when we have additional guidance and information. Thanks for your understanding, grace and patience.
— Baltimore County Public Schools (@BaltCoPS) November 27, 2020
Ransomware hackers apparently broke into the network in BCPS and encrypted, or scrambled, all the files on the computer systems. Criminals like these usually demand payment in bitcoins, and after payment is received, the hackers provide, more than 95 percent of the time, a password that will allow owners of the system to decrypt the files.
BCPS officials have not released the ransomware demands publicly, saying that a law enforcement investigation is ongoing.