Last Friday, September 11, Fairfax County Public Schools learned that hackers placed ransomware on parts of FCPS’ technology systems.
In a statement, FCPS said it believes the school district may be one of many school districts and businesses that have been attacked around the world.
In a follow-up statement, FCPS noted the attack had no impact on virtual learning, which started last Tuesday, September 8. FCPS advised students and staff to continue using their technology for school unless contacted by the district to do otherwise.
“Our IT staff and cybersecurity experts are investigating the matter, and we will contact you if we determine that your computer requires technical attention,” the statement said.
FCPS is the largest school district in Virginia and the tenth largest in the United States. according to FCPSwith more than 187,000 students in the school district.
According to the website of Nortonan antivirus software company, a ransomware attack occurs when a hacker locks or encrypts a user’s device and then demands money to restore access to the device.
Infosecurity Magazine published an article on September 10, the day before the official FCPS statement, claiming that the cyberattack was claimed by the cybercriminal group MAZE. The group released a zip file containing 2% of the data they allegedly stole from the county, as evidence of their involvement in the breach.
According to the article, FCPS is the 53rd school district to suffer a ransomware attack in the United States in 2020.
FCPS is currently working with the FBI and county cybersecurity consultants on the attack.