DERIDDER, La. -- This is a press release previously issued from the Beauregard Parish School Board, Public Information Office , Kari Ifland.
School systems across Louisiana were issued an Emergency Cyber Incident Prevention warning by the Louisiana National Guard, the Governor's Office of Homeland Security, and Louisiana Department of Education in July. The Ryuk Virus attack has targeted and affected several school districts across the state and nation.
"The Beauregard Parish Central Office, BPSB Technology Department, and all schools have been working with state and national authorities to protect our system against this costly cyber attack," explained Timothy Cooley, Superintendent of Schools. "The Ryuk Virus attacks computers by encrypting all files associated with the computer and renders the files inoperable."
Louisiana was among the first hit by the virus. The Incident Prevention Checklist is serving as a model for protocol across the country. The virus, which might have infected computers several months ago, was purposefully delayed to attack computers as school was starting. The authorities issued a "Critical Task List for Public School Systems" giving a step by step process for districts to follow to disconnect all internet services and then, in a thorough vetting process, to bring the services back online gradually.
All primary sites, all school sites, and all ancillary sites were taken down in the system on July 29. This process had to be completed within the school system and with all IP addresses connected to the system to include all educational sites, vendor sites, and any IP address used in the school system. The department was then instructed to allow only certain access for critical services once each site was inspected and deemed safe. Services were prioritized for allowed access, and the school system had to provide surety that each step of the process was carefully and thoroughly carried out.
The technology department is in the final stages of configuring the firewall protection, which will complete all steps necessary to bring the Internet fully online as school is getting underway.
"Because of this process, we have revisited our policies and procedures concerning Internet safety," said Cooley. "We had already planned to upgrade and change web filtering during the summer months to ensure our firewall protection is adequately protecting our technology system."
"In addition, our employees have undergone training over the past two years concerning suspicious emails and have been reminded about protecting our system by being vigilant," he stated. "Thankfully, our system was not specifically targeted this time, but the threat is ever-present."