No data compromised in Chester County Schools ransomware attack, school officials say

No data compromised in Chester County Schools ransomware attack, school officials say

CHESTER COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - Most computer systems in the Chester County School District are back online Tuesday after a ransomware attack.

According to the Chester County School District, a ransomware attack struck the district's servers last weekend. No data was taken or breached in the incident, school officials said.

School officials said the ransomware gained entrance to the system through email. A message appeared that said the district's servers had been encrypted and that a demand for bitcoins would follow. The district said they have been communicating with the attackers via email.

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On Tuesday, school officials released a press release that stated that the district did not pay the ransom because a consultant group and the district's IT team were able to "find work-arounds to recover all systems."

Since there were data backup systems in place, the recovery was faster than it could of been, according to school officials.

School officials released this statement Tuesday:

"The district plans to reevaluate our procedures, policies and put additional security practices in place for the future."

RELATED: Chester County School computer systems still down, officials talking with hackers

Assistant professor of cyber security at Winthrop University, Andrew Besmer, says hackers are attacking larger organizations because they likely have more money to offer than an individual. Besmer says they often times do not care about the personal information they have access to and they don't need to get access.

"It's just as good to them if they don't have a single file because they can encrypt the files and an organization simply can't function," Besmer said.

He says ransomware hacks can be preventable, but it is the human error that makes us most vulnerable to this kind of attack.

"One person who clicks on the email provides a pathway," Besmer said. "It may not be that that person is a high-level employee and has access to a lot of data, but they have a access to a computer. Then they have a way to go from outside the system to inside."

Besmer says it is very important to make sure all individuals with access to computers are trained in cyber security. If you do find yourself falling victim to ransomware, in general experts say do not give in to the hacker.

Pencils and paper replaced laptops until the network was back online.

The IT staff are currently inspecting every device in the district's network "to ensure that there are no viruses or infections," school officials said.

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