Haywood County School Latest in String of Virtual Learning Cyberattacks

Caleb Townsend
Staff Writer United States Cybersecurity Magazine

Across the country, many students are going back to school. A larger portion of the country’s youth are learning remotely. However, a cyber attack in North Carolina’s Haywood County School district puts the viability of online learning into question.

According to the local news, a ransomware attack shut down the schooling district for the entire week. The ransomware attack froze district files, as an attacker asks for money to stop the attack. The school has no intention of paying the fine. Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte states, “The school system is not interested in paying criminals. The recent ransomware attack is requiring us to rebuild our entire network and related technology services.”

Notle enlisted cyber experts to help fix their systems, as the school is working with the national guard, the FBI, among others. Classes will be back in session once the school has remote access to their files.

This ransomware attack comes on the heels over many other cyber attacks on virtual learning as the school year begins. Last week, Baugo Community Schools, another school engaged in virtual learning, was disrupted due to a Denial-of-Service attack. Around that same period, the Rialto Unified School District experienced a similar shutdown due to cybersecurity concerns.

Additionally, the FBI recently released a public service announcement, warning the likelihood that bad actors will take advantage of the mass dependence on technology sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the statement, they cite that the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 1,200 reports of scams related to COVID-19. The FBI lists education as one of the primary targets for cyber attacks.

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