Ransomware Postpones School in Connecticut

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The first day back to school was postponed for students in the Connecticut capital after a cyber-attack knocked critical systems offline. 

Hartford Public Schools students were due to resume classes on Tuesday morning. Instead, lessons were put on hold while officials tried to deal with a ransomware attack that struck the city on Thursday, causing a systems outage over Labor Day Weekend. 

Hartford mayor Luke Bronin described the incident as the most extensive and significant cyber-attack on the city in the last five years. According to the mayor, the attack would have been worse had the city not invested in a cybersecurity system a year ago. 

City officials said an unauthorized attacker first gained access to the city's systems on Thursday but didn't launch an attack until Saturday. The IT team worked through the weekend, going server to server to restore systems. 

Bronin said the Hartford Public Schools system has about 300 servers, more than 200 of which were impacted by the cyber-attack. 

Student information systems were restored at around midnight on Monday, said Hartford Public Schools superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez. 

She said: “It houses all of our student addresses, our grades, our attendance. It’s all housed there. It’s all been fully restored.”

Torres-Rodriguez added that the ransomware did not have any impact on the student learning platforms.

The system that routes school buses has not yet been fully restored following the attack. Other Hartford city systems impacted by the cyber-incident include public safety systems.

The city's police department said that response times were not impacted by the incident, but that the ransomware attack had caused inconvenient scheduling issues. 

City officials told NBC Connecticut that they don't believe any private information or sensitive financial information was exfiltrated by the attacker.

In its latest State of Email Security ReportMimecast examined the effects of ransomware and email attacks on the education sector. The company found that 32% of workers in the public sector said that ransomware had impacted their operations in the last 12 months.

On average, those struck by ransomware suffered two to three days of downtime as a result of the attack, with 9% experiencing downtime of a week or more.

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