Huntsville City Schools will remain closed this week due to cyber-attack

Huntsville City Schools ransomware attack

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - UPDATE: Per a school system spokesperson, Huntsville City Schools will remain closed the remainder of this week.

Principals, assistant principals, operations staff and district personnel who are notified by their supervisor will return on December 2. Teachers and all other HCS employees will return to campuses beginning December 3 to prepare materials for students.

Supervisors will contact employees regarding schedules.

HCS will serve curbside meals, December 2 through December 4, between 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. at all school campuses.

School officials want to remind everyone that families will not receive any district correspondence requesting their student’s name or personal information.

Avoid opening any emails and do not click on any links from unfamiliar email accounts at this time.

Ensure HCS devices remain off, and do not log on to any HCS platforms until further notice. The school system continues to partner with Huntsville Police and the FBI to investigate.

ORIGINAL: Class won’t be in session for Huntsville City School students on Tuesday. This comes after a massive cyber attack shut down all learning today, both in-person and virtual.

Huntsville City School students returned to school Monday morning after their Thanksgiving break only to turn around again after an announcement that the school district fell victim to a potential ransomware attack.

Vice President of Technologies for Simple Helix, Scott McDaniel said hackers basically hold your data hostage.

“That malicious party will basically encrypt your files and ask for money for the key or the ransom to get your data back,” McDaniel said.

Craig Williams with Huntsville City Schools said as soon as the school district found out about the breach they immediately got to work.

They partnered with Huntsville Police and the FBI to investigate, while students were sent home. According to school leaders, students should log off and turn off your district devices. This recommendation, for students learning virtually as well.

“Don’t log into any district platforms whether that’s schoology or any other platforms,” Spokesperson Craig Williams said. “We want to do everything we can from mitigation standpoint to minimize the attack.”

An idea that McDaniel said will help find the source.

“Asking everyone to keep the devices turned off limits the size of the threat so they can contain that threat faster,” McDaniel said.

So what are these hackers wanting and how did they get in? Williams said that’s under investigation.

One theory is that virtual learning during COVID-19 could be to blame.

“It does make you vulnerable to these types of attacks and of course it’s something we work to mitigate,” Williams said.

School leaders said as far as when students return to the classroom, that will be assessed throughout the week.

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