On November 25th, it was confirmed that the Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) underwent a cyber attack. In today’s environment, this is especially concerning since almost everything that has to do with school is online. According to WBAL, cyber-attacks have affected over 77 school systems; we are seeing an increase in attacks like these because of all of the new programs and systems schools have been using for virtual instruction.
The superintendent closed schools for a few days in order to keep all of the students and staff safe. But, BCPS staff and students have been back in school since Wednesday, December 2nd. On December 1st, Superintendent Daryl Williams stated, “I want to reassure you about our return to virtual learning tomorrow for all students. We know that the platform will look and feel different. What’s important is that we provide the best possible instruction and provide opportunities for connections between families and schools.” Following this statement, he also gave some instructions on what the students and staff members could do to keep themselves safe from the ransomware.
In addition to this, BCPS had device check days, where students and staff were able to bring their computers and receive replacement Chromebooks if needed. It seems that the ransomware only attacked internal networks like school emails and grades. It also doesn’t help that the timing of the attack was very close to the end of their grading period. Mychael Dickerson, the school system’s chief of staff, told the Baltimore Sun that “this caused systemic interruption to our network information systems.”
While the ransomware was at its peak, the school system was forced to communicate with students and staff through Twitter, since email had been compromised. In one of these tweets, the BCPS official account let everyone know about the events by saying, “Due to the recent ransomware attack, Baltimore County Public Schools will be closed for students on Monday, November 30, and Tuesday, December 1. BCPS offices will be open and staff will receive additional information about Monday and Tuesday.”
Throughout the attack, BCPS has continued to provide meals for any students who need them at no charge. There are many things still left unknown about the cyberattack, but BCPS is getting back on their feet and continuing their classes as best they can.