Minnesota school district cancels classes for 42 schools after alleged cyberattack
A public school system in Rochester, Minnesota announced this weekend that it was canceling classes on Monday for all 42 schools it operates after it was hit by a suspected cyberattack that began late last week.
On Friday, Rochester Public Schools released a message explaining that it “discovered irregular activity on its network” and needed to “shut down district-wide internet connection to review and address the issue.” Staff members and students were unable to access their Google accounts, and the phones at all school district buildings were not operating.
The incident comes weeks after the school district in Minneapolis was hit with a ransomware attack that exposed troves of sensitive student information. It’s not yet clear if the incidents are related.
Rochester Public School District serves 17,474 students in southeast Minnesota. By Saturday, the district released an update saying classes would be canceled because teachers and administrators needed to gather and plan on how to operate school “with no or reduced access to technology systems starting on Tuesday, April 11.”
The district’s IT department was forced to shut down the network and nearly all of the school's core technology systems.
“Because it would be very difficult to provide students with instruction and school services without access to the Internet and core systems, we are going to ask students not to report to school on Monday, April 10,” the district said.
Staff will come in on Monday for an early morning meeting but will be given the chance to to work from home because internet and other systems are not operating. Sports and other extracurricular activities will operate as usual on Monday and other services will be available for parents in need, the district said.
“We regret the impact that not having students report on Monday will have on our families and we also regret needing to share this information during what for many of our families is a holiday weekend and at the end of spring break” district officials said.
The incident comes about one month after a ransomware group posted data from Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) to the dark web. Education news outlet The 74 reported that the sample of data leaked by the Medusa ransomware group from MPS included records related to “student sexual violence allegations, district finances, student discipline, special education, civil rights investigations, student maltreatment and sex offender notifications.”
The incident heightened concerns about the massive amount of data leaked onto the dark web when schools refuse to pay ransoms following cyberattacks.
The mental health records of thousands of Los Angeles K-12 students were found leaked across the internet in recent weeks after an attack last year by the Vice Society ransomware group.
Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.