November 29, 2020

Mississippi school district hit by ransomware attack, hitting phones and computer network

An investigation by multiple agencies is underway after the Lincoln County School District became the victim of a cyber attack Monday.

Superintendent Mickey Myers confirmed the attack late Monday night in a written message.

“The district computer systems have been encrypted by a ransomware virus. This cyber attack has adversely affected multiple systems in our network. We are investigating the incident with numerous agencies and will provide more information as soon as possible,” he said.

District protocol requires that the FBI is contacted in such an event, however, Myers could not say if the incident is being investigated by the federal agency.

“We have consulted numerous agencies regarding how to proceed with this cyber event,” he said.

The district posted Monday during school hours that it was experiencing a network outage that affected phone systems and internet communication at the schools and that the district’s technology department was working to correct the problem. The Lincoln County School District includes Bogue Chitto, Loyd Star, Enterprise and West Lincoln attendance centers. Each campus includes kindergarten through 12th grade.

Ransomware is technically not a virus, but a malicious software that encrypts files on computers or can lock the user out of the system. Viruses infect files or software and have the ability to replicate, but ransomware scrambles files and renders them unusable, and the hacker demands a monetary payment to restore use of the system.