Flagstaff District Cyberattack Shows How Schools Are Vulnerable To Hacking

Published: Monday, September 9, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Tuesday, September 10, 2019 - 12:43pm
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The recent cyberattack on the Flagstaff Unified School District shows how some organizations are vulnerable to hacking.

Flagstaff Unified School District were back in session Monday morning, following two days off last week after a hacker installed ransomware on the school’s computers. Chuck Essigs with the Arizona Association of School Business Officials says schools are especially at risk for cyberattacks because they store sensitive information and lack a way to keep it secure.

“I don’t think any district by choice would want to risk their IT systems. It’s just a matter of knowing what to do and then do you have the funding to what’s necessary to protect your district,” Essigs said. 

One ransomware strategy locks users out of their own files and demands money to access them again.

Yasin Silva is a computer science professor at ASU. He warns organizations not to send hackers money or give into other demands.

“In general that is not recommended because there is nothing preventing the attacker from saying ‘You know what? I’m not happy with what you gave me I’m going to ask you for more money’ or ‘OK, I’ll release your files but I will also sell it,'" Silva said. 

Silva said a virus can enter a computer through an email link or website.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Yasin Silva's name. 

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