Education

Chester schools back online after malware attack shut down network

In this May 13, 2017, file photo, a screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on a laptop in Beijing. Over the weekend, Chester County school servers were hit by ransomware but no data was stolen or breached. Schools are now back online.
In this May 13, 2017, file photo, a screenshot of the warning screen from a purported ransomware attack, as captured by a computer user in Taiwan, is seen on a laptop in Beijing. Over the weekend, Chester County school servers were hit by ransomware but no data was stolen or breached. Schools are now back online. AP

The Chester County School District said it has recovered its computer systems after a ransomware attack shut down the district’s computer network the weekend of Jan. 27.

The district’s network was shut down after its servers were hit with ransomware, a type of malware that may block users from accessing their system.

No data was stolen or breached, the district said. The ransomware may have gained access to Chester’s system via email.

“The message that appeared stated that the district’s servers had been encrypted, and that a demand for an undisclosed amount of bitcoins would follow,” the district said. “We were given an email address to communicate with the attackers, which has been ongoing.”

The district said it did not pay the ransom, as its technology staff was able to find a way to recover all systems.

Chester’s technology staff is going through every device and work station to ensure there are no viruses or infections, the district said. All schools are back online.

“The district plans to reevaluate our procedures and policies and put additional security practices in place for the future,” the district said. “We are asking for patience from our students and staff as our technology team works through each device.”

Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082

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