A cyberattack has forced the Houston County (Ala.) district to delay the start of the school year until Aug. 12.

Alabama district victimized by cyberattack delays classes again

July 31, 2019
Houston County schools were scheduled to open Aug. 1, then Aug. 5. Now students will have to wait until Aug. 12.

An Alabama school district has delayed the start date of classes a second time because of problems associated with a malware attack on the system’s computer servers.

The Dothan Eagle reports that Houston County (Ala.) district has not been recovering from the hack as quickly as hoped. It has to reboot almost 4,000 devices and rebuild the school’s network, Superintendent David Sewell says.

“The vendors have had some problems recovering our data, although we do have good backups,” Sewell says. “We have been very fortunate that we have good backups.”

The new start date is Aug. 12. The original start date was set for Aug. 1, but last week the district postponed opening until Aug. 5.

The Alabama State Department has advised, again, that the district would not have to add days on to the back end of the calendar.

“We just have to be diligent with our time,” Sewell says.

The malware attack affected telecommunications, internet service, and computers that are connected to the district’s wide area network (WAN). Sewell says the latest estimate is that the network will not be available for another three weeks.

He also cautioned that some files, such as tests or lesson plans, could be lost.

Sewell would not confirm or deny that the cyberattack involved ransomware, a kind of malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.

“We’re really not to the point where we can say anything; we’re still assessing some of the damage,” Sewell says.

Sewell says enrolling students and getting students their schedules have been difficult because of the lack of access to computers, printers, or email accounts.

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