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Ransomware Attack that Cripples Tenafly Public Schools Computer System, Final Exams have been Canceled

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Tenafly NJ, Tenafly Public Schools were hit with a ransomware attack that crippled the district’s computer system. Final exams have been canceled for all of the district’s high school students as the Bergen County school district tries to get its system back online with the help of cybersecurity consultants.

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A security breach came to light last Thursday  as administrators noticed the encryption of data by ransomware on some computers in the district’s network, these devices were isolated and the districtwide computer system was shut down. Ransomware is a type of malware from cryptovirology that threatens to publish the victim’s personal data or in this case perpetually block access to it unless a ransom is paid. While some simple ransomware may lock the system without damaging any files, more advanced malware uses a technique called cryptoviral extortion.

On Tuesday, the district announced all final exams for high school students were canceled in light of the ransomware attack. There are no plans to reschedule them.

Last August the Ridgewood blog warned that , “The education sector continues to be one of the most targeted sectors by cyber threat actors who take advantage of the distracted or unaware user base, potentially unpatched systems and applications, and vulnerable networks in order to collect sensitive data, deliver malware, pilfer monetary funds, and launch ransomware attacks.”

In April we reported that , “The New Jersey Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Cell (NJCCIC) continues to observe efforts by cyber threat actors to compromise email accounts in the education sector in order to launch phishing campaigns with the intent to steal sensitive information, compromise account credentials, or conduct subsequent cyber operations against others in the education sector.”

Last month, Somerset County suffered a cybersecurity breach that temporarily shut down the county email system. And last year, the school districts in Hillsborough and Bernards Township closed schools for a day following suspected cyberattacks.

It’s unclear who is responsible for the ransomware attack in Tenafly or how much money they requested.When asked if the school district will pay the ransom, Corliss said “there was nothing definitive at this time.” However, she added law enforcement agencies were involved with the investigation.

Tenafly Police Chief Robert Chamberlain could not be reached Wednesday morning to comment on whether his department is involved in the investigation. Staff, parents, and students in Tenafly were notified of the security breach Thursday morning and have been receiving regular updates via the Tenafly Public School notification system, which is based outside of the district, officials said.

5 thoughts on “Ransomware Attack that Cripples Tenafly Public Schools Computer System, Final Exams have been Canceled

  1. nobody printed out the test?

  2. Not the last time we’re gonna see something like this.

  3. That’s what you get for using Windows.

  4. So Tenafly’s final grades won’t include the results of final exams…how can they then be compared to other schools that do have finals? Following the bizarre logic of cancelling the exams because of computer problems, shouldn’t all schools cancel them as well? Equity, right?

    1. Exams can both increase and decrease final grades. Better question is why the schools didn’t have a backup ready?

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