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Ransomware attack forces virtual classrooms to shutter for 115,000 Baltimore students

1 year 7 months 1 day ago Monday, November 30 2020 Nov 30, 2020 November 30, 2020 10:25 AM November 30, 2020 in News
Source: BBC News

BALTIMORE, Maryland - Students who'd been forced out of in-person classes due to the spread of COVID probably felt they'd already experienced their fair share of problems, but the hacker who orchestrated a pre-Thanksgiving ransomware attack on the district's school system added to the student's difficulties.

According to the BBC, a ransomware attack on Maryland's Baltimore County public schools district has halted classes for more than 115,000 students who are using eLearning platforms due to the pandemic.

The district was hit last Wednesday, before Thanksgiving Day, but schools will remain shut on Monday and Tuesday, the BBC reports.

According to a local newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, there's no anticipated 'return date' for students. The newspaper said classes could resume in days or weeks, depending on the methods used to restore the district's computers. 

Baltimore Schools issued a statement, Sunday, saying, "Our focus today and for Monday and Tuesday is identifying and addressing student and staff device needs so that instruction can continue." 

Though students who are learning remotely are left to twiddle their thumbs, offices remain open for staff and the school system is continuing to provide free school meals to students. 

At this point, school officials remain mum as to the specific nature of the ransomware, only calling it a "catastrophic attack on our technology system."

Ransomware is a type of cyber-attack that locks down affected systems and make them unusable and as its name suggests, ransomware is typically used to hold a victim to a ransom, demanding payment in exchange for the restoration of their computer system.

An added problem is that there's no guarantee the cyber-criminals will stick to their word once payment is made and this is one reason why law enforcement typically urges affected companies not to comply.

Louisiana's state government came under a ransomware attack November of 2019.

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The Fall 2019 attack caused internet and website problems at a host of agencies, disrupting motor n vehicles offices and other public-facing departments statewide. 

According to one report,  at least 128 federal and state entities, healthcare providers and educational establishments were impacted by ransomware between January and June of 2020. 

Baltimore County Public Schools says it's working with law enforcement to solve the issue. 

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