Baltimore News

Baltimore County Public Colleges crippled by ransomware assault

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020
William Carter and Tyler Waldman, WBAL NewsRadio 1090 and FM 101.5

Baltimore County Public Schools systems and devices were struck in a ransomware attack late Tuesday, leading virtual classes to be canceled Wednesday.

The Teachers Association of Baltimore County is warning teachers to leave their computers off and not turn them on or check email until they receive word from the school system.

This closure includes BCPS offices. https://t.co/524mKVaqxy

— Mychael Dickerson (@DMDForward) November 25, 2020

Jim Corns, the district’s chief of information technology, said officials became aware of the attack late Tuesday night. County information technology crews began assisting in the response and on Wednesday morning, they told Superintendent Darryl L. Williams of their findings. Williams subsequently closed all schools and offices to assess and limit the impact.

Corns said the district has been engaging with local, state and federal cybersecurity experts. He would not put a timeline on when BCPS systems and devices could be operating normally. It’s not yet clear how many devices in the system were affected.

“We don’t know at this point of a timeline but we are listening to our experts to guide us in the proper manner,” Corns said.

Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said police are in the “preliminary steps” of an investigation but declined to give any details.

County officials said there is no reason to believe the county’s own systems were affected. However, officials said their network and devices will be inspected and security will be enhanced out of an abundance of caution.

In neighboring Baltimore City, school system officials said students without a device issued by the city school system would be granted an excused absence.

“Students participating in virtual learning should only use City Schools-issued laptops or devices,” officials said in a note to families. “Do not use devices issued by Baltimore County schools or your personal laptop or computer.

Last year, the city government was crippled for months by a ransomware attack.

Here is the latest update:
Baltimore County Public Schools can now confirm we were the victim of a Ransomeware cyber attack. This caused systemic interruption to our network information systems. Our BCPS technology team is working to address the situation. Updates as available.

— Mychael Dickerson (@DMDForward) November 25, 2020

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