Hartford city officials said a ransomware attack caused an outage of critical systems and forced the city's first day of school to be postponed. The superintendent confirmed late Tuesday afternoon that classes will resume Wednesday.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the attacker first gained access to the systems on Thursday, but did not do anything. On Saturday, investigators said the virus actually attacked the systems and the IT team worked through the weekend to access and restore the affected systems. Now the IT team is going system by system and server by server to restore the systems, Bronin added.
According to Bronin, the City of Hartford including Hartford Public Schools has about 300 servers and more than 200 of them were attacked in the ransomware virus attack.
Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said the city was able to restore the student information systems around midnight.
“It houses all of our student addresses, our grades, our attendance. It’s all housed there. It’s all been fully restored,” she said.
A different system that's important for some students attending in-person learning on the first day of school could not be fully restored.
"This includes the system that communicates our transportation routes to our bus company and it is preventing our ability to operate schools on Tuesday," Hartford Public School officials said in part in a statement.
Because of the attack, there was no in-person or online learning on Tuesday. Classes will resume Wednesday now that critical systems, including the bus transportation database, were restored, a statement from district officials confirmed.
Bronin said on Monday, they believed the system that routes the school buses was successfully restored, however, later in the night, they realized it wasn't.
Torres-Rodriguez added that the ransomware virus did not have any impact on the student learning platforms.
“A ransomware is a type of malware that once it infects a computer it encrypts the data on that computer, the files and folders, documents and everything," University of New Haven Assistant Professor of Computer Science Dr. Vahid Behzadan said.
"And then it asks the owner of those files to pay some ransom, some money to be able to access those files again, to decrypt those files," Behzadan added.
This ransomware attack was the most extensive and significant attack in the last five years in the city, Bronin said. About a year ago, Bronin said the city invested in a cyber security system that significantly limited the damage of this attack.
The ransomware virus attack also had an impact on other systems throughout the city. Bronin said because it was identified early, they were able to isolate specific systems and there are some that still need to be restored.
Some of the systems that were impacted over the weekend include public safety systems, according to Bronin. He urged residents that there was no operational impact that could have impeded response to service at that time.
Most of the systems that were impacted for Hartford Police Department were inconvenience-type impacts including scheduling, added police.
City officials said they do not believe any private information of students or employees or sensitive financial information was stolen in the attack.
The Hartford Police Department and FBI are investigating the attack.