HAVERHILL, Mass. — Classes across Haverhill have been cancelled on Thursday after a ransomware attack on the district’s computer system.
Haverhill Police and Homeland Security are now investigating the cyber attack that put the entire district on pause during a vulnerable time.
Haverhill elementary students in grades 2, 3 and 4 were supposed to be heading back to class on Thursday for the first time in over a year.
An extra day will be added to the end of the school year for the cancelled in-person and remote learning day.
“He was like, ‘Yay, no school!’” said mother Jen Darling. “I was like, ‘You’re going to have to make it up cause it’s a snow day.’”
Jen Darling, whose 8-year-old son is in the third grade at Golden Hill Elementary, is still trying to wrap her mind around how it happened and what the cyber attackers were after.
“It’s a coincidence that the kids are getting phased in tomorrow and then this happens. It’s a very weird thing,” said Darling.
The Haverhill School District said its IT Department noticed the issue with the system early Wednesday morning.
“While it was initially unclear what was going on, the team initiated safety protocols and shut down the network before large scale corruption of the system occurred,” read a memo from Haverhill Superintendent Margaret Marotta.
School officials said they can’t guarantee that classes will be back in session on Friday.
“While our data appears to be isolated we are working to remove the malware prior to resuming internet activity. This is causing our Internet, email and Google classrooms to be down at this time,” the memo stated.
Robert Siciliano, CEO of Protect Now, told Boston 25 News that ransomware attacks are on the rise across the world.
“Municipalities worldwide are being targeted in such a way that their systems are being knocked out and their data is being held hostage,” explained Siciliano. “Bad guys can hold that information for ransom and get big payouts.”
Haverhill school officials believe the cyber attack potentially happened when someone opened a file containing malware.
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