Teachers and administrators forced offline after cyber attacker breaches district


Oracle Staff

Update Feb. 3, 8:50 p.m: Multiple staff members’ Amazon accounts have been compromised and used to purchase gift cards on the site.

Update Jan. 30, 4:55 p.m: In a statement delivered to district employees today, Superintendent Nellie Meyer said the attack on computer systems has been determined to be ransomware, or the threat to continue to block stolen data unless the victim pays a ransom fee. According to Meyer in the statement, certain district files and phone systems operated using the district server are blocked. The statement said that the district continues to believe that no student data is compromised.

The school collected attendance on paper this morning after an unknown digital attacker breached MVLA digital systems, locking many district teachers and administrators out of their MVLA Microsoft accounts and in some cases, other necessary accounts such as Gmail and Aeries, according to MVHS Principal David Grissom. 

Grissom said that at this time there is no known threat to student MVLA accounts. 

According to Grissom, the attack primarily blocks district desktop Microsoft computer accounts while district Chromebooks and Apple laptops are not compromised. This suggests a breach to the district server, an MVLA specific file-sharing system, however Grissom said he is not aware of the precise location of the breach. However, attackers have gained access to several teachers’ passwords for their email and other websites. 

There is no known threat to student MVLA accounts. 

The unknown attacker gained access to the MVLA network at around two in the morning, according to Grissom.  The source of the attack is unknown at the time however Grissom said attackers may have gained access through a phishing scheme in which someone in the district mistakenly created an access point to the district network by downloading a virus, malware, or other corrupted file onto their work computer. 

According to Grissom the MVLA Information Technology Department is working to determine the root of the breach and devise a plan to carefully get teachers back online. In the meantime, IT sent an email to staff in the morning advising teachers to be wary of false emails and to refrain from clicking on any email attachments from unfamiliar senders and responding to messages indicating encrypted files.