New Jersey's Livingston Public Schools (LPS) has experienced a ransomware attack that compromised its servers and forced class delays, Superintendent Matthew J. Block indicated in a prepared statement. The ransomware attack was used to encrypt LPS data, and the entity responsible for the attack is not believed to be associated with the school district.
Cybercriminals shut down LPS's servers Friday and rendered the school district's data inaccessible, Block noted. The servers remain inoperable, but LPS officials are working to make as much technology as possible available to students and taking steps to ensure its daily operating logistics run smoothly.
How Is LPS Responding to the Ransomware Attack?
LPS has made ransomware attack recovery a "top priority," Block stated. To date, LPS has provided the following ransomware attack updates:
- Internet access is available in each of its schools.
- Student emails are working.
- A direct phone line will be set up in each district school.
- LPS staff email is functional.
- LPS's Genesis parent access portal and full phone system are unavailable.
Furthermore, LPS has reported the ransomware attack to the Livingston Police Department and other law enforcement agencies. LPS also indicated that it could take weeks to fully resolve the incident.
Are Cybercriminals Targeting School Districts?
In addition to the LPS ransomware attack, other school districts recently have experienced cyberattacks, including:
- San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD): Found ransomware used to lock access to district files last month.
- Flagstaff (Arizona) Unified School District: Closed 15 schools for two days in September due to a cyberattack.
- Rockville Centre (New York) School District: Paid nearly $100,000 in August to restore its data after cybercriminals used ransomware to encrypt files across its server.
Cybersecurity in education lags behind cybersecurity in 16 other sectors, according to a recent analysis of more than 2,900 organizations conducted by cybersecurity risk analysis company SecurityScorecard. However, the increasing prevalence of cyberattacks against schools could accelerate the demand for education cybersecurity services.