Schools have been closed for several days in two Michigan school districts because of ransomware attacks on the schools' computer networks.

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School districts in both Jackson and Hillsdale Counties had to cancel classes again today after both districts were forced to shutter classes both Monday and Tuesday this week.

What is a Ransomware Attack?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infiltrates computer networks. Hackers typically find a way to plant malware on a computer network that encrypts critical data. They then demand payment or 'ransom' to be paid in order to release a key that unlocks encrypted data.

Such attacks are the main reason many companies have begun using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) which requires employees or customers to provide a code or some sort of confirmation in order to log into mission-critical systems, thus thwarting hackers from logging in with stolen compromised passwords.

Schools' Critical Systems Compromised

Kevin Oxley is the Superintendent of the Jackson County Intermediate School District. He tells the Hillsdale Daily News that the schools have experienced district-wide outages affecting major operating systems like heating, classroom technology, and telephones.

Oxley says his district's system was compromised over the weekend.

“Immediately upon discovering suspicious activity, we proactively took systems offline in order to contain the incident," Oxley says. "We have engaged external cybersecurity advisors to investigate and assist in the safe restoration of our systems.”

Oxley says parents and students should refrain from using any school-issued devices. At this time, it is unknown when either district will be able to resume regular classes.

 

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