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Tuesday, 01 December 2020 10:22

Baltimore students told to avoid Windows after ransomware attack Featured

Baltimore students told to avoid Windows after ransomware attack Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

The authorities at Baltimore County Public Schools, which was hit by ransomware last week, appear to have realised that Windows was a factor in the infection, and have advised students to avoid using Windows-based devices until further notice.

The BCPS said in a statement on its website: "Please do not use BCPS-issued Windows-based devices until further notice (HP Revolves or Probooks).

"You may now safely use: BCPS-issued Chromebooks and BCPS Google accounts for students and staff."

The strain of ransomware that hit BCPS is unknown with none of the common strains having made any announcement on their sites on the dark web.

The BCPS is in charge of all public schools in Baltimore County, Maryland, and is the 25th largest school system in the US, according to Wikipedia.

advice no windows

The advice issued by the BCPS.

The BCPS announced the ransomware attack on Twitter on 25 November. "Due to issues with our network, all Baltimore County Public Schools will be closed today, Wednesday, November 25, 2020. Additional information will be shared as it becomes available," district chief of staff Mychael Dickerson wrote.

He later clarified that ransomware was to blame, writing: "Baltimore County Public Schools can now confirm we were the victim of a ransomware cyber attack. This caused systemic interruption to our network information systems. Our BCPS technology team is working to address the situation. Updates as available."

The BCPS said it would remain closed on 30 November and 1 December.

"Due to the recent ransomware attack, Baltimore County Public Schools will be closed for students on Monday, November 30, and Tuesday, December 1. BCPS offices will be open and staff will receive additional information about Monday and Tuesday," it said on its website.

"This provides much-needed time for our staff to continue working to set up the instructional platform and to communicate next steps regarding devices.

"On Monday, November 30, and Wednesday, December 2, student meals will be available for pick-up at no cost, at more than 300 locations as usual, including all middle and high schools.

"We understand how challenging this situation is for families and staff, and we thank you for your patience as we work through this crisis. Please note that future daily updates will be available at 5pm."

Only a very small part of the BCPS website was functioning at the time of writing.

iTWire has contacted Microsoft for comment.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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