Hartford Public Schools delays first day of class due to district-wide ransomware virus attack

Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Hartford Public Schools officials announced they will be delaying the first day of school on Tuesday until further notice. They said a ransomware virus caused an outage of “critical systems” that is hampering communications needed to operate schools.

The district was supposed to start the school year Tuesday with its hybrid learning model. Some students opted to do remote learning too. But all of that is now on hold.

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Harry Obeni feels in-person learning is essential for his 7-year-old son.

“It’s really important to be here,” Obeni said.

Like thousands of families, he learned via email school would again be on hold after more than 200 of the Capital City’s 300 servers were attacked.

“Learning online is not really serious because at our home, nobody’s there to talk to [my son,]” Obeni said.

A year ago, Hartford invested half a million dollars in a cybersecurity system. Mayor Luke Bronin says that investment paid off by limiting the damage of Saturday’s attack.

“There is one system that we knew yesterday was significantly compromised and that was our student information system, Power School,” Hartford Superintendent of Schools Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said. “That was a seven-hour rebooting process.”

But by Tuesday morning, IT workers were still trying to repair the system that controls bus routing and communicates real-time information about routes, and that’s why the superintendent made the call to postpone school.

Mayor Bronin said, “Our IT team will be prioritizing the effort to ensure that the school system is fully up and running, and ready to open as soon as possible. They’ll be going school to school, going desktop by desktop.”

Web Extra: Mayor Bronin, Superintendent Torres-Rodriguez address ransomware attack that delayed the start of school

But the attack is not a first for the City of Hartford; It has fought off prior attempts. Bronin says no student information was compromised, though restoration will take time.

While they are still working to recover from this attack, the city says there are no known active threats to the IT system at this time.

According to UC Berkeley, these are the possible impacts of a ransomware attack:

You can read the full statement from Hartford Public Schools below:

Dear Families and Staff,

We regret to inform you that we must postpone the opening of schools. There will be no in-person or online learning on Tuesday, September 8. We wanted to provide you with an important update about the impact on our systems.

We have been informed by Metro Hartford Information Services (MHIS), our City of Hartford shared services team that manages our network infrastructure, that the ransomware virus caused an outage of critical systems and the restoration of those systems are not complete. This includes the system that communicates our transportation routes to our bus company and it is preventing our ability to operate schools on Tuesday.

Everyone at Hartford Public Schools was ready to welcome back our beautiful and capable students in person and remotely. We will provide updates when we have additional information to share.

Sincerely,    

The Hartford Public Schools Team

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