Morgan County Schools’ computers hit by holiday ransomware attack

by Kate Evans

Morgan County Schools was one of many victims of a massive Fourth of July weekend ransomware attack that struck businesses and agencies nationally and around the globe.

A Russian-based hacker group initially demanded $70 million to stop the cyberattack.

School Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said at a July 6 school board meeting that the hack occurred on Friday, July 2 and was contained to some of their office computers.  Some individual machines were infected and some files were locked from the attack.  The group behind the hack wants school officials to pay money for the files to be released.

On social media, school officials said the attack was contained to their “internal network environment.”

Morgan County Schools’ technology department worked around the clock to deal with the issue for several days, Tuttle said.  Their internet servers are all stable.

Technology personnel checked all the computers in the school board office.  They’re now going through computers at all the schools to see which machines have been infected, she said.

Kaseya, a Florida software company whose subsidiaries   remotely handle security and IT infrastructure for small businesses and public agencies, was hacked last Friday.

Ransomware was imbedded in a software tool.  Computers were infected with the ransomware when they downloaded updates, Tuttle said.

Kaseya is a security company that is paid to protect networks, she said. They are working with several technology partners and Kaseya to resolve the situation and assess the extent of the hack and damage.  Some lost a lot of files. The FBI is also involved in the investigation. Those hit by the attack were not advised to pay the ransom.

Tuttle said in a phone call late last week that school officials are still figuring out how many computers were affected by the ransomware attack.  If the computers were on, they could’ve been compromised. The tech department is sweeping all the school computers now for malware.

Tuttle noted that some individual machines may need new hard drives.  Some files have been recovered and some have not.  County school officials have contacted BRIM, the West Virginia Board of Risk and Insurance Management, and made a claim, which they hope will cover some of the damages.

In response to questions from The Morgan Messenger on Monday if any student or employee information was involved in the ransomware attack, Morgan County School Board president Aaron Close said that the ransomware cyberattack is under investigation and they can’t speak to the types of files that may have been compromised.

The cyberattackers have files locked up and nothing has been released. Once school officials figure out the extent of the damage, the school system is required to release a statement about it, he said.   If the school system is made aware that any personal information has been lost, they will individually reach out to those people. At this time, Close said they are unaware of any personal information that has been lost.

“We survived COVID, now it’s ransomware.  We’ll work through it,” Tuttle stressed.

8 Comments

  1. PG on July 14, 2021 at 11:20 am

    This is what happens when Sean Forney and friends are worried about useless 2nd amendment proclamations. Priorities of the Incompetents

    • Derek on July 21, 2021 at 9:04 pm

      Really sean will fight for what he thinks is right i grew up with him and hes a good guy and your gimg to bash him for that shame on you…. What does that have to do with whats goin on in a cyber attack think before you post a dumb comment like that and then hide behind a fake name
      Derek price

    • Dirk on July 22, 2021 at 7:46 pm

      This comment is useless and irrelevant. Sean forney is and will continue to succeed. How many blocks of salt have you licked. Sounds like mr PG is still sore he lost the election vs sean lol btw sean forney has nothing in this lol

  2. CW on July 14, 2021 at 8:00 pm

    HOORAY for our Commissioners !!! Great job !

  3. Dr. Charles Arena on July 15, 2021 at 4:53 am

    I don’t see any link between 2nd amendment proclamations that may be essential to preservation of rights, liberties and freedoms and Russian hackers that could give a rat’s rump about what our county commissioners do in their official capacities.

    • PG on July 16, 2021 at 1:56 pm

      Use your head. There’s only so much time available in meetings, and pointless proclamations is what they waste our council meetings with. Ignoring real issues. Your kids identities will be stolen, but at least they can open carry in church🙄 Grow up.

  4. Charles Anthony Arena on July 16, 2021 at 5:14 am

    Apparently my previous comment was shadow-banned. You published a personal attack that was irrelevant to the article while banning my comment pointing out the defective logic in that comment. The County Commissioners had absolutely nothing to do with Russian hackers managing to hit Morgan County Schools computer systems. That is a national security problem for which our national U.S. government has responsibility. Secondarily, there was a local firewall that apparently did no have enough security. My objection is to your censors and not the author of the previous comment. Why are irrelevant and personal attacks permitted; while a comment pointing out the misfeasance of publishing such a comment is by all appearances forbidden at Morgan Messenger?

    • PG on July 22, 2021 at 12:00 pm

      Again – why are the commissioners wasting time on useless proclamations when their are serious issues that affect Morgan County and all it’s residents and children? The US government has no responsibility in Morgan County schools. Who does? Certainly the Morgan County Council could take up some serious items. Are the meetings unlimited in length? So yes – wasting time in commission meetings is indeed a pertinent issue.

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