HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) - A ransomware attack forced officials to cancel Hartford Public Schools' first day of school.

There was no in-person or online classes on Tuesday for Hartford Public School students.

Late in the afternoon on Tuesday, school leaders said all systems impacted were restored, and that classes would begin on Wednesday.

A letter to parents said:

"Let’s try this again! We are pleased to announce that Hartford Public Schools will start school for both online and in-person learning tomorrow, Wednesday, September 9, 2020. We regret the unexpected delay and deeply appreciate your patience and flexibility as we resume our plans to welcome all our students back to school."

During a Tuesday morning news conference, Mayor Luke Bronin said it was unclear when school would be able to begin following the attack.

“We are often the subject of cyber attacks," Bronin said. "This was however, the most extensive and significant attack that the city has been subject to certainly in the last five years."

The agencies that manage the network infrastructure for the district notified school leaders that a virus caused an outage to critical systems.

It was first discovered over the weekend on Saturday.

More than 200 of the city's 300 servers were affected. One impacted area included the communication of transportation routes to bus companies.

No student or employee personal data was accessed or stolen, school officials said.

"If we know we have nearly 4,000 students that are expecting to come to school relying on bus transportation, then we have to make that available and accessible to our students," Bronin said.

Power School, the student information system used by Hartford schools, was compromised by the attack. It was restored within seven hours.

“As you know, we are heavily relying on all of our technology and our staffs’ ability to access that technology in order to deliver remote instruction,” said Hartford Superintendent of Schools Leslie Torres-Rodriguez.

Public safety systems within the city were also targeted.

"Most of the systems that impacted the police department were kind of back-end support systems. Report writing, our ability to upload cameras into the servers," said Hartford Police Chief Jason Thody.

Restoration efforts for the affected systems continued Tuesday morning, and all were completely restored by Tuesday afternoon, just before 5 p.m.

Devices students have are connected to a cloud-based platform, so they were not affected by the ransomware attack.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said that the Connecticut State Police's cyber security unit and the U.S. attorney general's office will investigate the attack. 

"It's unacceptable and what a terrible thing to do to our kids at the beginning of school," Bysiewicz said. "We are going to do everything in our power to bring whoever did this to justice, because this is a bad thing and I can’t imagine criminals taking advantage of young kids."

The FBI was also notified and is investigating.

"I feel for the families and the school community in Hartford," said state education commissioner Miguel Cardona. "They were ready to go. They worked really hard to plan and then something like this happens. But you know safety first."

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(2) comments

bannedbylibs

Where is official designation of this as "ransomware?" Superintendent said in interview that part of system restored; did Hartford pay a ransom? Is the Superintendent lying as to extent of this hack? Is WFSB scamming for readers with fake headlines? We have the Hartford Courant and CNN for garbage news sources, do we really need another?

Dan7543

This happened in Wolcott, too. They paid the ransom.

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