Ransomware takes down servers at local school district

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SUGAR CITY — A ransomware attack locked up all of Sugar-Salem School District 322’s servers this week — right during ISAT testing.

District 322 became aware of a ransomware attack affecting their servers Tuesday and immediately shut them and all the computers down. Superintendent Chester Bradshaw said no sensitive data, such as student information, was lost but ISAT testing had to be stopped. Any work requiring a connection to the school district’s servers has to wait until the problem can be resolved.

“We caught it really quickly. We got it shut down before any sensitive information was leaked out. We’re thankful about that,” Bradshaw told EastIdahoNews.com.

Ransomware is a malicious program that encrypts a victim’s data locking it away from the victim. Often the victim is told to pay to have their data unencrypted. This is the latest in a number of ransomware attacks on local government entities in the last several years. Bingham County ended up paying a $3,000 ransom in 2017 after an online attack. Madison County was hit in 2018 but was able to recover its files without paying anything.

RELATED: Bingham County pays ransom to release encrypted servers

Although no sensitive data was lost, faculty and students are having to make do without access to any online school district programs.

“A huge number of our classes at the high school are on Canvas. Even if a kid wants to go on their parent’s computer, they’re still not able to access it because the login requires them to authenticate it on our servers,” Bradshaw explained. Canvas is an online educational program used by Sugar-Salem schools.

RELATED: Madison County computers were hacked with ransomware virus

“(The Ransomware attack) shut us down for two days. We’re right in the middle of ISAT testing. Without internet, we can’t ISAT test.” Bradshaw said.

Bradshaw said a Washington based company is working to restore the district’s servers.

“We hope to be up and running Monday,” he said.

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