Computer Attack Disables California School District’s System

A ransomware virus took down a California school district’s computer system, forcing a shutdown of distance learning for about 6,000 elementary school students, an official said.

The attack disabled the computer server and email service for the Newhall School District in Valencia, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The attack affected all online learning in the district’s 10 elementary schools.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education defines a ransomware attack as “malware” targeting human and technical weaknesses by denying availability to an organization’s most sensitive data and systems.

Newhall Superintendent Jeff Pelzel said he believes the attack took place between the late hours of Sunday and early Monday morning.

“This obviously came at a difficult time for us since we’re 100% digital learning,” Newhall Supt. Jeff Pelzel said Tuesday.

Pelzel noticed no emails were pushed to his smartphone Monday morning before he received error messages while attempting to log into the district’s email server through Outlook and then a web browser.

The district shut down its servers and sent messages to parents via an emergency notification system and Instagram that they should avoid the district website, downloads and emails.

The district used Instagram to announce a temporary return to pencil, paper and textbook learning for students.

There had not been any monetary demands as of Tuesday, Pelzel said.

The district hired an outside forensics team to investigate the cause of the attack, survey the damage and offer an estimate of when normal online learning could resume. Pelzel said he hoped to have more information by Wednesday evening.

The Rialto Unified School District in San Bernardino County also suffered a malware attack last month.

Related: Clark County Schools Reports Computer Ransomware Attack

Related: Start of School in Hartford Delayed by Ransomware Attack

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