Derek Hutchins is the superintendent of Crab Orchard Schools. It’s a district of only 530 students, east of the town of Marion, in southern Illinois. So he was surprised last week when his tech support guy showed up in his office with big news.
“He said, ‘You’ll never guess what’s going on today.’ I said, ‘No clue.’ He said, ‘We’re trying to get hacked.’ I said what do you mean? He said, ‘We’ve been hit in the last two hours with about 14,000 attacks trying to get through our firewall,’ ” Hutchins says.
Even more surprising: “The majority of (the attacks) were from North Korea and Russia,” Hutchins says. “So that tells me they’re just phishing. They’re trying to find, you know, ways that they can get into our system.”
This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that school districts in Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles have been attacked by computer hackers stealing staff paychecks, hijacking student information and holding files for ransom.
Hutchins says his district benefits from being small (just about 530 students) and tech-savvy. The “tech guy” dedicated to maintaining school computers has a system that automatically backs up every machine, every evening.
Hutchins says that paid off when one person opened a phishing email and received a ransom request. Staff simply wiped that machine and used the backup data to restore it.