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Cyber scare: FD schools return following attack

District: most systems are back online

- photo by Chad Thompson Cars fill the parking lot of the Fort Dodge Community School District Central Office on a recent day. The district cancelled school for Thursday after the district suffered a cyber attack Wednesday morning. Classes resume Friday morning.

The Fort Dodge Community School District announced Thursday that class will be in session today following a cyber attack that disrupted the district’s phone and internet services on Wednesday.

The district said its systems are coming back online and most of its phones are working again.

The district started experiencing an outage of the utilities in buildings early Wednesday morning when a cyber attack locked down its servers, according to Jennifer Lane, FDCSD director of communications and community relations.

As a result, there was no class or online learning on Thursday.

“Fort Dodge Community School District understands the importance of maintaining the operational integrity and security of our systems,” Lane said. “Access to some schools is currently unavailable as a result of a cyberattack we recently discovered. We immediately implemented our response protocols and began an investigation. Cybersecurity experts who have worked with other organizations that have had similar issues, have been engaged. We are working quickly to address the issue and to restore operations.”

Jeremy Pearson, the district’s supervisor of information technology, said the issues of the attack were noted a little after 6 a.m. on Wednesday.

“We started working as soon as we got into the office with the security company we are working with to maintain some of our compromised systems,” Pearson said Wednesday. “It appears to be some ransomware attack for payment to allow us to recover our systems. We are slowly, but tediously restoring systems a little bit at a time.”

Ransomware is a type of malware that threatens to publish the victim’s data or perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid.

The district said it has notified law enforcement of the attack and supports their investigation.

“As part of our response to this incident, we will also look for opportunities to further enhance our existing security posture,” Lane said. “We appreciate the patience of our Dodger families and staff as we work through this incident.”

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