Rockford Public Schools Ransomware Attack Encrypted and Stole Student Data

Written by Mitchell Langley

May 16, 2024

Rockford Public Schools Ransomware Attack Encrypted and Stole Student Data

Rockford Public Schools Ransomware Attack has allegedly encrypted data and disrupted school operations leaving students without technology and internet.

Rockford Public Schools Ransomware Attack Details

Rockford Public Schools staff received an unpleasant surprise at multiple district buildings. All technology systems across the school network, including computers, internet access and landline phones, were found nonfunctional.

Additionally, ransom notes had printed unexpectedly from devices in various locations. Superintendent Steve Matthews confirmed to local news station FOX 17 that the district had been hit with a ransomware attack.

“We got some random messages that popped up on some printers throughout the district,” Dr. Matthews explained. The printed letters claimed responsibility for crippling the school system’s IT infrastructure and demanded payment to restore access.

At this time, the full scope and origin of the attack is still under investigation. In the meantime, core technology capabilities and communication tools remain offline across all Rockford Public Schools properties as IT workers scramble to determine the breach method and scope of contamination.

“Your data is stolen and encrypted,” the note reads. “If you don’t pay the ransom, the data will be published on our TOR darknet sites. The sooner you pay the ransom, the sooner your company will be safe.”

“We are not a politically motivated group and we want nothing more than money,” the letter continued. “If you pay, we will provide you with decryption software.”

The note demands the district pay an undisclosed amount of money to decrypt its data and warns leaders to not go to the police.

Ransomware Attack at Rockford Public Schools Left Students Without Internet

The ransomware attack at Rockford Public Schools left staff and students learning without technology. With internet and computer systems offline due to the breach, Superintendent Matthews acknowledged it would require a more “old school” approach.

“Kids won’t have access to computers and the network. So there’ll be doing things with books and paper and pencil, just like we used to do a long time ago,” Dr. Matthews stated.

Students found the adjustment strange according to sophomore Tatum Konecsni. “For like our English class all we did most of the hour was read books or learn about basic grammar. But for our other classes we just sat there and talked to each other,” Konecsni said.

Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Matthews assured the community there is no safety risk from the ransomware attack. “All students and staff are safe; the buildings are secure. So it’s not a safety issue, just right now it’s a very much of an inconvenience,” he stated.

Dr. Matthews also confirmed the district is working with local and federal law enforcement, including the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and FBI, to investigate the incident.

Despite the major technology disruption caused by the Rockford Public Schools Ransomware Attack, classes will continue as scheduled on Wednesday. Superintendent Matthews told FOX 17 there are no plans to cancel school during the outage. Teachers will persist with alternative lesson plans that don’t rely on digital tools.

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