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Ransomware Leads to Nantucket Public Schools Shutdown

Nantucket’s public schools shut its doors to students and teachers after a data encryption and extortion attack on its computer systems.

For the second day in a row, public schools on the tiny island of Nantucket remained closed Wednesday as administrators scrambled to cope with a ransomware attack on its computer systems.

According to published reports, Nantucket’s five public schools shut its doors to students and teachers after a data encryption and extortion attack prompted staff to shut down the internet along with all student and staff devices — including phones and security cameras.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we will be canceling school tomorrow, Wednesday, Feb. 1, for all staff and students,” school superintendent Beth Hallett wrote in a message to the school community.

The schools were first closed on Tuesday morning and all 1,700 students and staff were sent home “for the safety and security of all.”

Hallett said the school district has hired outside data security experts to work alongside its IT department to recover data and restore computer and internet service. 

There is no information on whether a ransom payment was paid or the extent of damage from data encryption or data theft.

Education institutions have become a popular target for ransomware attacks with multiple schools reporting malware infections that lead to data being encrypted and costly ransom demands.

Related: Ransomware Attack Hits School District Twice in 4 Months

Related: Arizona Schools Provide Model for Managing Ransomware

Related: Ransomware Hit 200 US Gov, Education and Healthcare Orgs in 2022

Related: Clark County Schools Reports Computer Ransomware Attack

Written By

Ryan Naraine is Editor-at-Large at SecurityWeek and host of the popular Security Conversations podcast series. He is a security community engagement expert who has built programs at major global brands, including Intel Corp., Bishop Fox and GReAT. Ryan is a founding-director of the Security Tinkerers non-profit, an advisor to early-stage entrepreneurs, and a regular speaker at security conferences around the world.

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