Threat Management

Cyberattack forces Houston County schools to postpone opening day

Several thousand school children in Alabama had their summer vacation extended by two weeks as the Houston County School District was forced for the second time to delay opening day due to a cyberattack.

Houston County Schools Superintendent David Sewell told families the first day of school will now be August 12, instead of the originally scheduled Aug. 1, according to a WTVY report. Initially, Sewell had pushed the start back from August 1 to August 5, but this required an additional adjustment.

The district has not said exactly what type of malware is involved, other than to note that no ransom has been paid and that all the district’s 4,000 computers need to be reconfigured, a process expected to take three more weeks.

In the meantime, WTVY quoted Ashford High School Principal Bubba Odom as saying, “People are going to learn what it was like 50 years ago, 30 years ago, before cell phones and things of that nature."

The district plans to go back to a paper-based system until it is back online.

School districts have been victimized at a high rate this year with the majority of them facing a ransomware situation. A string of such attacks caused Louisiana’s governor to declare a state of emergency last week so he could call in resources from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police and the Office of Technology Services to assist local governments in responding to three cyberattacks that hit districts in Sabine, Morehouse, and Ouachita parishes.

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