Thursday, April 22, 2021

Total shutdown in Baltimore Co.; cyberattack


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.

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.

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.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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