Souderton Area School District Contending With Ransomware Cyberattack

SOUDERTON, Pa. (WPVI) -- The Souderton Area School District has become the most recent apparent victim of a ransomware cyberattack that struck soon after the beginning of the new school year.

Officials from the district have been working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service, and a cyber-security firm to remedy the situation.

Ransomware is used to encrypt computer files and keep hold of those files until the owner pays a ransom for their return.

Rob D'Ovidio, an Associate Professor of Criminology at Drexel University, says the motive behind these crimes is usually pretty simple: money.

He says, "The specific types of encryption that are used to lock up your computer have netted perpetrators in the billions of dollars because people don't have adequate back-ups to restore their computers or their networks and they're forced to pay."

School district officials have not revealed the full extent of this cyber-attack, but they did say their financial systems are stored off-site so the district's financial information remains secure.

Meanwhile, Souderton Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Gallagher released a statement reading, in part, that as a necessary precaution the district, "...immediately shut down the district-wide computer network and disabled internet connections to prevent further damage."

School officials also say they do not anticipate any disruptions to the school calendar as a result of this. Also, for the time being, parents should call their child's school directly to address any urgent matters.

No word tonight if the district plans to pay the ransom being demanded.
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