According to the Arizona Daily Sun, the attack is a ransomware attack, and the attacker has demanded a payment of an unknown amount of bitcoin.
The attack was first detected on Wednesday morning, and the district has been working around the clock to secure the data. It has affected systems such as campus entry, communication systems and attendance. It is not known if student data has been compromised.
The national site, EdScoop reported that Flagstaff had followed a pre-determined response plan, and disconnected from the internet on Wednesday afternoon.
“We do have redundant systems for our daily operation but we had to make sure all would be accessible before we had kids on campus,” Zachery Fountain, the district director of communications, said.
Flagstaff isn’t the only Arizona school district to be targeted. Camp Verde Unified School District was hit with a ransomware attack in July. Other schools across the country even paid the ransom to restore access to its files and systems, such as Rockville Centre, New York, which paid nearly $100,000 last month.
Municipalities are also being attacked. In New Bedford Massachusetts, hackers took over the city’s computer systems, demanding more than $5 million. City mayor Jon Mitchell said he attempted to negotiate with the hackers by offering $400,000, but the offer was immediately rejected, according to StateScoop. So, the City chose to restore their files through internal methods.
Prescott Unified School District Superintendent Joe Howard said they are doing all they can to prevent such an attack from happening locally. "We certainly believe that we have the firewalls and security to avoid this, but I believe every school district and business is living in fear of this monster. We are also working closely with our insurance company called the Trust, which insures almost every school district in Arizona comprehensively. They are helping school districts to make sure that they have everything that they can possibly have to avoid this type of situation.”
As for Flagstaff students, there’s no such thing as a free holiday. These two days off are being treated as snow days and will have to be made up later in the year.