Thanks to a surge in targeted ransomware attacks against schools (and other state and local government agencies) across the country, 2019 has turned out to be a very tough year for school district IT leaders. One representative example: Rockford Public Schools 205 in Rockford, IL suffered a ransomware attack in September of this year that turned out to be very significant in terms of its impact on the school community (see, e.g., a sample of original reports of the incident:”Rockford Public Schools computer network hacked, causing widespread outages” and “RPS 205: Ransomware caused outages, could last days“).
While public details about school cybersecurity incidents are often scant – identifying the root cause, what was involved with recovery, and what changes may have been (or need to be) made to prevent future incidents – the leadership at Rockford Public Schools has been refreshingly forthcoming about their experiences in recovering from their ransomware incident.
In a post entitled, “What Happened? Details about the RPS 205 Ransomware and Tech Outage” and accompanying podcast (linked below), Jason Barthel (the Executive Director of Technology for Rockford Public Schools), explains in his own words what happened and what’s next for the district from the IT perspective:
The post and podcast offer valuable lessons learned from incident recovery, and school district IT leaders across the country will undoubtedly benefit from hearing the candor with which he publicly speaks about his work. We need more – not less – dialogue about the state of school cybersecurity risk management. Hats off to Mr. Barthel and the team at Rockford Public Schools for helping shed light on the people doing the hard work of protecting school IT assets and data systems.