Swansea Public Schools canceled classes Wednesday following a ransomware attack that shut down the district’s network, according to the school superintendent.
“The cyber security company, with whom we contract, is working today to ascertain the extent of the attack on our network,” Superintendent of Schools John J. Robidoux wrote on Twitter. “More info will be shared once we have a clearer picture.”
Students attending out-of-district special education schools will still be provided transportation on Wednesday, the superintendent added.
WPRI obtained a letter sent to parents at one Swansea elementary school, which said the loss of the district’s network impacts “a significant portion of the school day.”
“There are countless areas of the school that rely on the network either for functioning or for communication, including our copiers and telephones,” the letter read, according to WPRI.
What is ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware designed to encrypt files on a device and render them unusable, according to StopRansomware.gov, a U.S. government website.
“Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption,” the website explains.
In recent years, cybercriminals have targeted companies, governmental entities, schools, and even hospitals, sometimes with disastrous results.
A 2021 ransomware attack shut down one of the nation’s largest energy pipelines; one month later, another ransomware attack slowed ferry service between mainland Massachusetts and Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Near Swansea, Bristol Community College was recently hit with a cyberattack that involved ransomware encryption. The attack impacted “onsite internet and network functions including email, Teams, shared document sites and information systems, for students and employees,” according to the college’s website.
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