Cyberattack shuts down online learning at 15 UK schools


15 schools in the United Kingdom have been unable to provide online learning due to a cyberattack. 

The schools, based in Nottinghamshire, belong to the Nova Education Trust co-operative. 

On Wednesday, as reported by local publication NottinghamshireLive, several of the schools reported issues across social media and the need to close down the IT systems due to the cyberattack. 

According to Nova Education Trust, a threat actor was able to access the trust’s central network infrastructure and while an investigation took place, all existing phone, email, and website communication had to be pulled. 

Students are still learning remotely in England. Schools are set to reopen on March 8, but in the meantime, only a small subset of children are attending school physically, such as the children of key workers.

The 15 schools impacted by the central cybersecurity incident were not able to provide typical remote learning and teachers have been unable to upload learning materials. However, some of the schools have pivoted to SMS messages, temporary phone numbers, and Microsoft Teams to try and keep lesson disruption to a minimum. 

Days after, IT teams are still working to restore the trust’s systems. While it is not known who is responsible, the incident highlights how centralized IT infrastructures, when compromised, can have a ripple effect and impact any and all institutions relying on them.

“The incident has been reported to the Department for Education and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and the trust is currently working with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and additional security professionals to resolve the matter,” Nova Education Trust said. “All trust employees have been advised to take the necessary precautions.”

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