Ransomware attack hits New Kent Co. Public Schools ahead of new school year

NEW KENT Co., Va. – New Kent County Public Schools were subjected to a ransomware cyber attack, the school district’s superintendent announced Tuesday.

In a message to families, Brian J. Nichols said the files located on the district’s internal hard drive have been encrypted, meaning they are unable to access the files without paying a ransom. He says this “will cause an undue burden as we work to start school on time and ready for our students to learn.”

The district has notified the FBI and is working with federal law enforcement, Nichols said in his statement. He said at this time, school officials do not believe cyber criminals have taken any personally identifiable information.

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New Kent County Public Schools will open on time, and open house events will continue as scheduled. School officials will work through the registration process, bus routing and will make sure students are scheduled for their classes on the first day of school.

Below is Nichols’ full statement on the incident:

Hello New Kent Community,

In order to be transparent and to communicate fully with the New Kent Families and Community, I must share that New Kent County Public Schools has been subject to a Ransomware Cyber Attack.  This means that the files located on our internal hard drive have been encrypted so that we are unable to access these files without paying a ransom. Simply said, we cannot access many of the documents and data the faculty and staff have created and this will cause an undue burden as we work to start school on time and ready for our students to learn.

As you may have heard, many localities and school districts across the United States have recently been targeted by cyber criminals.  Unfortunately, we have now become a victim as well. Ransomware is a malware that infects a computer or server and encrypts the entire device.  In our case, the ransomware encrypted nearly our entire system. We have been working round the clock in order to rebuild our systems. We have hired cybersecurity experts and a technical team to both investigate the incident and bring us rapidly back online.

We have also notified the FBI and are working with federal law enforcement.  At this time, we do not believe any personal identifying information was taken by the cyber criminals.  As we work to rebuild our systems, we ask for your patience.

New Kent County Public Schools will open on time.  Our open house events will continue as scheduled. We will work through our registration process and our bus routing.  We will make sure our students are scheduled for their classes the first day of school.

One thing that this cannot take from us is our will to serve the students and families of New Kent and to be ready with a smile and a plan to be ready to learn on the first day of school.  We are #NewKentStrong and we will work through this together.

Sincerely,

Brian J. Nichols

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