Thea Digiammerino

Wolcott Schools Working Without Internet, Email After Multiple Ransomware Attacks

The superintendent made the decision to shut down computers as a precaution while they work to figure out a solution.

Wolcott Public Schools are on high alert after experiencing what they fear to be the second cyber-attack since June.

School Superintendent Anthony Gasper directed the Wolcott IT director to shut down all school computer systems until the situation can be resolved.

Gasper said he made the decision to shut down computers as a precaution while they work to figure out a solution. There is no evidence of an impact to sensitive student data to date.

In June, Wolcott Public Schools experienced a ransomware attack where hackers demanded money to restore the computer system. Ransom was not paid and the situation was handled internally. However, when a suspicious email was discovered one week ago, the town wasn’t taking chances.

“The computers right now are locked down,” explained Police Chief Edward Stephens, who is treating this as a criminal investigation. “Once we discovered the second hack they did lock them down right way.”

This suspicious activity, as well as the June attack, are currently being investigated by federal, state and local entities, who say the initial attack was delivered by an email sent to Wolcott High School.

“It comes in thru an infected file or an infected email,” explained Stephens. “Somebody clicks on it and before you know it, it goes throughout the whole system.”

Since September 4, Wolcott school email and internet have been shut down, requiring teachers, students and parents to adjust.

“They’re frustrated just like we are,” said Wolcott Mayor Thomas Dunn. “We’re frustrated. The administration at the school system is frustrated. Parents and all that. It’s a little hectic right now.”

To help rectify the situation, the district has contracted International Cyber Security firm Kivu.

The superintendent posted a technology update on the Wolcott Public School web site saying,

“A task force of network specialists has arrived in district. They have begun assessing and repairing our network in collaboration with our own staff. The Board of Education and I are committed to ensuring that our network security is restored to industry-standard levels. While state and federal law enforcement experts have informed us that it is impossible to fully prevent another such attack of malware, we will do everything within our power to reduce this risk.”

A timeline as to when the computers in Wolcott would be back up and running has not been set.

The schools phone systems are operating normally and parents are reminded they should not use email to communicate with their child’s school until further notice.

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