Los Angeles Unified, Feds Investigating As Ransomware Attack Cripples IT Systems
Nation's Second-Largest School District Says Cyber Attack Occurred Over Labor Day Weekend
- By Kristal Kuykendall
A ransomware attack over Labor Day weekend brought to a standstill the online systems of Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest K–12 district in the country with about 640,000 students, LAUSD officials confirmed this morning in a statement on its website.
Late Monday, LAUSD teachers told LAist.com that they were unable to access email, the Google Classroom suite, or instructional apps that connect to Google Classroom like Schoology. The Los Angeles Times reported that the district website was down late Monday and early today; most of the website was back online by 8 a.m. local time but portions of it — such as the school board information and meeting agendas — were still offline.
Early today, the district revealed that it was, in fact, experiencing an “external cyber attack” on its Information Technology assets, which it characterized as “likely criminal in nature,” and the district said law enforcement response had been swift since the cyber attack was discovered and reported.
“After the district contacted officials over the holiday weekend, the White House brought together the Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to provide rapid, incident response support to Los Angeles Unified, building on the immediate support by local law enforcement agencies,” LAUSD said in its statement early today. “At the district’s request, agencies marshaled significant resources to assess, protect and advise Los Angeles Unified's response, as well as future planned mitigation protocols.”
The district statement said schools would open as scheduled today, and officials did not expect “major technical issues that will prevent LAUSD from providing instruction and transportation, food or Beyond the Bell services.” It noted that based on preliminary analysis, healthcare and payroll systems had not been impacted.
“Furthermore, Los Angeles Unified is immediately establishing a plan of action, informed by top public and private sector technology and cyber security professionals, to determine additional protections for the District, and to provide an independent opinion on system-wide protective measures,” said the district’s statement. “We will continue to benefit from the declared assistance of federal and state law enforcement entities to assist with investigative procedures and technical deployment and solutions. Presently, federal investigative and technical experts are working on-site, collaboratively, with the Information Technology Division.”
Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can
be reached at [email protected].