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Schools trust hit by ransomware attack

30/03/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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An organisation running 50 primary and secondary schools has been forced to disable its email system after suffering a ransomware attack.

'Cyber attack' amid code on screen

The Harris Federation said it has also disabled its digital devices used by pupils and turned off its IP telephone systems, although switchboards for each school remain open.

It has issued a statement saying it became aware of the attack on Saturday, that its servers have been impacted and that it is working to resolve the issue. Its schools have remained open.

“This is a highly sophisticated attack that will have significant impact on our academies but it will take time to uncover the exact details of what has or has not happened, and to resolve,” the federation said. “In addition to using the services of a specialised firm of cyber technology consultants, we are working closely with the National Crime Agency and the National Cyber Security Centre.

“Harris academies are open today and we will endeavour to keep them open until the end of term as specified in the table below.”

Data concerns

It added that it is aware of families’ concerns around personal data, and that it will say more about the attack when it has a better understanding. It is also liaising with the Information Commissioner’s Office.

The news comes amid growing concern over cyber attacks on education institutions. Last week the National Cyber Security Centre published an alert with guidance for schools and colleges, and the Harris Federation said is at least the fourth academy trust to be hit by ransomware.

Image from iStock, Matejmo

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