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Keys schools computer system hacked

A cyberattack shut down the Keys schools computer system for nearly three days.
A cyberattack shut down the Keys schools computer system for nearly three days. file photo - FLKeysNews.com

The Monroe County School District has been forced to shut down its computer system for nearly three days due to a cyberattack.

An employee working on payroll work Sunday noticed some problems with the computer system and put in a request with the district’s IT department, administrators said. The tech team contacted the district’s internet security provider, Symantec, which advised securing the system.

“They brought it all down on Sunday,” said Pat Lefere, executive director of operations and planning for the district.

The culprit was ransomware called “GandCrab.”

The goal of GandCrab, as with other ransomware, is to encrypt all or many files on an infected system and insist on payment to unlock them, according to a McAfee blog published July 31.

“This particular one was a variant that Symantec hadn’t seen before,” Lefere said. “They took all of our files and created a patch for us. It was applied to all servers before bringing them back up.”

The IT department believed it had fixed the problems by 8 a.m. Tuesday but by 9 a.m. saw some of the same problems that popped up Sunday and shut down the system again.

By Wednesday afternoon, the system was still down, said school board president Bobby Highsmith. But the district’s website was up and running.

“There’s no threat to our data, which is one thing we’re concerned with,” Lefere said.

The computer hack meant the district couldn’t broadcast its Tuesday school board meeting. A recording of the meeting was posted online on Wednesday.

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