Baltimore County Public Schools Forced To Cancel Classes After Crippling Ransomware Attack

We’ve seen ransomware in hospitals and schools, and it wreaks havoc no matter the case. This is especially true when people are relying on technology now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Baltimore County Public School district encountered this firsthand when malicious attackers installed ransomware that crippled the network and closed school.

Early this morning, the chief of staff for Baltimore County Public School systems, Mychael Dickerson, tweeted that all schools would be closed today due to network issues. As it turns out, it was ransomware affecting the network, as he later tweeted the following:
Baltimore County Public Schools can now confirm we were the victim of a Ransomeware cyber attack. This caused systemic interruption to our network information systems. Our BCPS technology team is working to address the situation. Updates as available.

— Mychael Dickerson (@DMDForward) November 25, 2020 Local news station WBAL-TV 11 News reports that they “received reports of teachers who lost lesson plans and other data.” This is only the early stages of the attack, so it is unknown what other data could have been lost, but this could be bad. The ransomware affected the BCPS offices as well, so there is likely more data loss that we do not yet know about.

In May of 2019, the city of Baltimore experienced a ransomware attack that impacted many systems throughout the city’s network. This new attack against the school system may be by the same attacker, but researchers have not yet determined if this is indeed the case. We will likely find out more about the attack in the coming days, so stay tuned.