Riverhead schools: a computer system damaged by a possible “cyber incident”


The Riverhead School District computer system was damaged by a possible “computer crash” that crippled its email and internet services, district officials said on Friday.

District officials said they discovered the problem on Friday and were investigating the source of the outage.

“Preliminary reports indicate it could have come from a cyber incident,” the district said in a written statement.

A cyber incident is a breach of the security of a system in order to affect its integrity or availability, or unauthorized access to a system, according to the National Cyber ​​Security Center.

The announcement of the cyber incident came just days after the Riverhead School Board adopted a cyber incident response plan on Tuesday.

Officials said the full extent of the damage was unclear. The incident did not affect the district’s student management systems as this data is hosted off campus. School phone lines remain operational, officials said.

Superintendent Augustine Tornatore did not respond to requests for an interview.

The Riverhead School District has about 6,000 students and 400 teachers, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, chief technology officer Robert Hines said the district has already placed advanced firewalls between the system and the internet.

The district has also improved email security, he said, noting that the vast majority of cyber attacks start with an email.

He also noted that the district’s wireless infrastructure needs to be improved to handle the growth of the district’s system.

“The safety of the school system is of paramount concern to all of us,” Hines said at the meeting. “As a school district, we rise to the occasion and are implementing practices and solutions that help protect our schools from attack and comply with the law.”

Several school districts on Long Island have fallen victim to cyber attacks that crippled their systems for days and weeks as they faced them.

A September 14 ransomware attack on the District of Manhasset wreaked weeks of havoc on the district’s phones and voicemail, Wi-Fi, the cafeteria shopping system, and teachers’ access to school plans. courses and tests.

Cyber ​​attacks and breaches on school systems are becoming increasingly aggressive and damaging, exposing personal information and costing taxpayers a lot of money to fix school technology and, in some cases, pay ransoms to recover stolen data, according to experts.

School districts are prime targets for cybercriminals because they hold an abundance of information about local staff, students, and households, which can be stolen and used for identity theft and fraud.

On Long Island, 13 districts suffered cyber attacks or data breaches from 2018 to 2020, according to K12 Security Information Exchange. They are: Rockville Center, Montauk, Port Jefferson, Mineola, Sag Harbor, Lindenhurst, Oceanside, Bay Shore, Lynbrook, Miller Place, Remsenburg-Speonk, Great Neck and Floral Park-Bellerose.


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