Ransomware attack sends Texas students back to pre-tech era

Southwest

MANSFIELD, Texas (NewsNation) — A ransomware attack has all but shut down a Texas school district made up of nearly 35,000 students.

Students and staff of the Mansfield Independent School District are still coming to school but the attack has affected technology, in-class curriculum, emails, phones and teacher payroll. Teachers are unable to print homework, students can’t call home from school phones and — for the time being — visitors are not allowed on campus. 

Dr. Kimberley Cantu, the district’s superintendent, said their technology team is “working overtime” to resolve the situation.

Avery Matthews, a freshman, spent her middle school years going through a pandemic. And now, a ransomware attack in her first week of high school has disabled every student laptop.

“The thought crossed my mind yesterday … like, these hackers have my address,” she told NewsNation. “I either have to write it all out, or we just can’t do it. Which puts us pretty far behind because it’s our first full week of school and I can’t do half my work.” 

Emily Campbell has three boys at Mansfield. She said she’s concerned about the hackers accessing family files.

“These are truly criminals,” she said. “They’re not just someone who’s taking the information just for fun …registration times, Social Security numbers, date of birth.”

On Friday, the FBI warned companies and organizations in north Texas to remain vigilant.

“The schemes are typically perpetrated by sophisticated criminal organizations and their methods vary from basic phishing campaigns to supply chain attacks, intellectual property theft and ransomware attacks,” it said.

The FBI has suggested companies and organizations develop a relationship with a local FBI field office, get a plan in place in the event of a cyberattack and rehearse it often.

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