A cyber-attack has shut down virtual classes in a Los Angeles school district two weeks after the FBI issued a cybersecurity warning to schools offering online learning.
In a grim foreshadowing of what was to come, FBI supervisory special agent Corey Harris said on August 11: “We want all school districts to be prepared and understand that there’s a possibility that they could be attacked.”
“With so many kids that will be conducting school virtually, that increases the risk. That opens the door for an attacker to actually compromise either the school district’s network or the kids’ computers.”
Online classes were suspended at the Rialto Unified School District on Monday following a malware attack.
A statement posted on the district’s website on Sunday said that online learning hosted by its Bridge Academy had been halted indefinitely while an investigation was underway to determine the “nature and scope” of the cyber-attack.
The statement read: “Rialto Unified School District has been affected by malware, which is software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access to the computer system. RUSD instruction will be suspended until further notice, while we investigate the nature and scope of the malware.
“We understand that this news is difficult in these already challenging times and we appreciate your patience while we work to address this issue.”
District spokesperson Syeda Jafri said that information technology department staff were working “day and night” to give students back access to an education. She urged students who have assigned devices linked to the district’s server not to use them until the current situation has been resolved.
Computer equipment issued to students by the school will be collected and checked to make sure it is secure.
The Rialto Unified School District includes three high schools, one alternative/adult education school, five middle schools, and 19 elementary schools. More than 25,000 students residing in Rialto or neighboring cities, including Bloomington, Colton, Fontana, Lytle Creek, and San Bernardino, attend school in the district.
Other school districts, including the Lake Elsinore Unified School District, also had disruptions on Monday after some teachers and students were locked out of Zoom.