HCS starts clearing devices for use following ransomware attack

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala – Two weeks after a ransomware attack, Huntsville City Schools says grades K-8 can start using their Chromebooks; however the district says students cannot use the HCS network.

To end the week, HCS started collecting Windows devices from high school students as part of the ongoing ransomware investigation.

“It’s often times that Windows devices can be vulnerable to these types of issues,” said Craig Williams, a spokesman for HCS.

High school students will get replacement devices after winter break while teachers are starting to get theirs now. HCS says the replacement devices were not purchased as a result of the ransomware attack.

“That’s not just something we’ve had in storage just for months. We ordered those recently for COVID,” said Williams.

The exact cost the district has incurred from the cyberattack is not yet known. It’s not clear if the district will make that available at this time.

Traditional pen and paper was printed and distributed to cover the district for what HCS says could be a significant amount of time. However, HCS says they’ve cleared most of their online learning platforms.

“Clever, Schools POP, Zoom, things of that nature will help them access online learning tools. However, one thing that is very important to understand, those tools cannot yet be accessed on the HCS school network,” said Williams.

Some rumors have surfaced online that the district is being held ransom by cyber criminals demanding several million dollars.

“It’s an ongoing investigation. I’m not sure where that number came from.  That’s certainly not something I’ve heard,” said Williams.

Previously HCS has urged the community to refrain from sharing unconfirmed rumors. As far as how long this cyber threat could last, the answers remains unknown. HCS has repeatedly said this is a marathon not a sprint.

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