SUNLAND PARK – Seven months after a ransomware attack disabled its email systems, the Gadsden Independent School District is suffering another bout with the virus after its systems were taken down Monday.
The district announced Tuesday it had shut down its internet and communications systems, including phone service, across all of its 24 school sites as well as supporting locations.
Once again, the district attributed the attack to the Ryuk virus, a ransomware infection that is used to lock access to information and data systems until a ransom is paid. After last July’s attack, the district replaced servers and worked with the Microsoft company to rebuild its email system.
District spokesman Luis Villalobos told the Sun-News it was not clear whether Monday’s attack resulted from a new infection, or from the malware that infiltrated the district’s system in July.
The district undertook a cleaning of computers at school and administrative sites after last summer’s attack. “It was an entire rebuild with the exception of payroll systems and human resources,” Villalobos said. While email service was restored, it required construction of a new system. Villalobos said that email records were preserved only for four months preceding the attack. Everything earlier than that was lost.
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Internet and phone communications were not expected to be restored sooner than the end of the week, the district reported, with employees working to clean computers.
Villalobos said the district found that student data and personnel records remained secure, and that payroll would be completed on time.
In October, following the first attack on the Gadsden schools, a Ryuk ransomware attack disabled internet and wireless systems across the Las Cruces Public Schools, from which the larger school district has been recovering throughout the school year as it needed to scrub 33,000 computers, replace servers and install new cybersecurity systems.
Both districts have maintained that they did not negotiate ransom and had no interaction with hackers.
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