UPDATE: Wood County Schools coming back online

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - UPDATE 11/11/19:

Wood County Schools are getting closer to defeating a ransomware attack on their computer systems.

Superintendent William Hosaflook says phone systems are back online as of Monday, and they are starting to get administrators their rights back to the internet.

He says their Management Information Systems group has been installing a ransomware anti-virus and protection system as different machines come back online.

Hosaflook says Wood County Schools has insurance against cyber-attacks, and outside the $2,500 deductible with the Board of Risk and Insurance Management, the main cost has been man hours.

Though he can’t be certain, Hosaflook feels confident that this won’t happen again. He compares cyber-attacks to physical illnesses.

“The great analogy was, when I was talking to the forensic data specialist, it’s like the flu virus. You know, we get flu shots and we think we’re immune to the flu virus, but sometimes we end up with the flu virus because it’s just a different strand, that keeps populating,” said Hosaflook.

Hosaflook says no contact has been made with the ransomware attackers.

UPDATE 11/8/19:

Federal, state and local authorities are all investigating the ransomware attack involving Wood County Schools' computer systems.

Superintendent William Hosaflook says officials noticed the problem Wednesday night.That's when doors at one of the elementary schools kept going on and offline.

After working all night, administrators realized Thursday morning it was a ransomware problem, though Hosaflook says he's not aware of any demands for payment. The problem is affecting Windows-based systems by keeping teachers and administrators from accessing desktop files.

To fix the problem, he says officials are rebuilding servers. They will be working throughout the weekend to get things up and running as soon as possible.

Hosaflook says state officials, experts from the National Guard and even IT experts from local businesses are all pitching in to help.

"We have a priority list, and that's to get the phones, we have six schools that are IT-phone based, which means over-the-Internet based. And we have to get those up and running so parents can communicate with the schools, the schools can communicate with parents and stakeholders. I mean, even the principal to make announcements. So we have to get that up and running. So, that's a top priority. It's phone, doors and we'll go from there," he said.

He stressed that no data has been exposed. He also adds that the system students and parents used to view grades is not affected because it's a separate system operated by a third-party vendor.


UPDATE: 11/7/19 6:10 P.M.

The superintendent of Wood County Schools confirmed Thursday evening that the district has been the victim of a ransomware attack that has blocked access to county files.

In an email news release sent to WTAP just before 6 p.m. Thursday, Hosaflook said the district has already sought help from state officials and that a third-party computer-security system is also helping with efforts to restore access to the locked files.

"We want our students, their parents, and the Wood County community to know that we place a high-value on maintaining the integrity and security of the data we hold in our systems," Hosaflook said. "We also want everyone to know that we are working diligently to restore access to our files, so we can continue the academic school year with minimal disruption."

Hosaflook did not provide specific details about the attack, including when it was first noticed, but he said he would provide updates as more information becomes available.


ORIGINAL STORY 11/7/19

The superintendent of Wood County Schools confirmed Thursday afternoon that the district is investigating problems related to a possible computer virus.

Superintendent William Hosaflook said officials think a virus is preventing certain software programs from working properly.

Officials have not said how widespread the problem is or when it was first noticed, but Hosaflook said he plans to provide more information in a news release.

We'll have more information online and during WTAP News @ 5 and 6 as more information becomes available.



 
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