Peel District School Board struggles with fallout from malware attack, leaving parents, teachers in the dark

The Peel District School Board is still unable to say when several of its key online resources will be back on track after they were hit by a malware attack that continues to paralyze a string of databases.

Last week, the board told staff in an email, the malware “resulted in the encryption of certain PDSB files and systems,” and after it was discovered, the board “took immediate steps to isolate the incident.”

The risk posed by unknown hackers is creating unease among the unions representing elementary and secondary school teachers, who claim they have been kept in the dark, and received just the most sparing details about the type and scope of attack more than a week since the board first admitted it was facing a “cyber security incident.”

Speaking to the Star Thursday, board spokesperson Tiffany Gooch said a cybersecurity firm, hired by the board has made significant progress in both the investigation and recovery efforts, but couldn’t say exactly when the systems would be back to normal.

“We hope to be able to provide a resolution timeline in the next few days,” said Gooch.

“We can confirm that the incident involved encryption malware.”

Gooch wouldn’t say if the hackers have attempted to extort the board by seeking payment to unlock the seized data portals, but she did say there is “no evidence that any personally identifiable or otherwise sensitive data was compromised because of the attack.”

Gooch was unable to say how the incident occurred and who might be responsible. These are things she says she hopes the continuing probe will reveal.

Of equal concern to the union is that the board faces this logistic hurdle in the days leading up to students’ anticipated return to the classroom for in-person learning the week of Feb. 16.

Representatives from both unions say the board has provided links for back-channel access, so some tasks can be completed.

The board remains partially locked out of the intranet used by staff because some functions cannot be accessed.

She said the malware has not affected virtual classrooms, but it did wipe out the website and with it applications accessed by families.

As a result, the board extended deadlines for Grade 1 French…