Hartford Public Schools Announce Delayed Return After Ransomware Attack | Connecticut Public Radio

Hartford Public Schools Announce Delayed Return After Ransomware Attack

Sep 8, 2020

Tuesday’s planned opening of Hartford Public Schools was postponed after officials reported that a ransomware virus caused an outage of critical computer systems. The district announced on its website that school for both online and in-person learning will begin Wednesday, Sept. 9. 

A staggered schedule for in-person students only begins with grades 3 to 5, 7 and 9. 

Roughly 18,000 students were affected by the delay. The attack was discovered Saturday and the student information system was fully restored by Monday night. 

Superintendent Leslie Torres-Rodriguez said student information was not compromised, but the computers that communicate the district’s transportation routes to its school bus company were disrupted, affecting 4,000 students who rely on the bus. 

“We have two outstanding issues,” said Torres-Rodriguez. “One is the transportation server and system, and the other one is our staff desktops. We know that at the city offices several desktops were impacted, and we have to make sure on the staff side, if we do go remote, our teachers would still need to have access.”

Mayor Luke Bronin said at a Tuesday news conference that an investigation is ongoing. He said that sensitive financial information was not accessed, and the city’s IT vendor, Metro Hartford Innovation Services, was working to restore the system. 

“We don’t know the motive, we don’t know the perpetrator, we’ll work to identify the perpetrator,” said Bronin, “but our focus right now is on making sure we fully understand the extent and that we restore everything as quickly as possible.” 

The city invested half a million dollars in cybersecurity improvements a year ago, which officials said prevented more extensive damage. The Hartford Police Department and the FBI are also investigating the cyberattack.

Brenda Leon is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.