Hackers attack Fairfax County school system with ransomware

Virginia’s largest school system is investigating an alleged cyber attack on its technology systems.

Fairfax County Public Schools said that it recently learned that ransomware was placed on some of its technology systems. Ransomware essentially holds a target computer or computer system hostage by encrypting its files and demanding payment.

“We currently believe we may have been victimized by cyber criminals who have been connected to dozens of ransomware attacks in other school systems and corporations worldwide. We are coordinating with the FBI on the matter,” Fairfax County schools said in a statement Friday.

Infosecurity Magazine reported that the threat group MAZE has claimed responsibility for the attack, and said that the group has “uploaded a zip file of data they claim was exfiltrated from the school system.”

Fairfax County schools said it is working with security experts to find out the nature and scope of the attack and how to recover from it.

The Fairfax County Federation of Teachers issued a statement urging the school system to resolve the issue and keep the school community informed.

NBC Washington reported that the school system has not notified staff as of Friday night because it is investigating the attack. Kimberly Adams, of the Fairfax Education Association, told NBC Washington that employees need to be aware of the attack in order to protect their own data, which includes private information such as their social security numbers.

The first day of school for Fairfax County Public Schools started this week with online learning. More than 187,000 students are enrolled in the school.

Hundreds of thousands of students in some of the D.C. region’s largest school systems went back to class virtually over the last two weeks, but technology problems plagued some areas.

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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