Houston County Schools has its school information system software iNow back online, allowing the district to move forward with enrolling new students and getting schedules prepared and printed in anticipation of the new start date of Aug. 12.
The school system also has limited phone service at all of the schools, meaning they only have one line at each location operational. Phone service has also been restored at its central office location.
“Everything seems to be slowly falling into place,” Superintendent David Sewell said. “It’s still a very slow movement, but I think it’s moving along quite well.”
Guidance counselors now have access to the only working computers at each school. Other school computers are not allowed to be turned on by faculty and staff at the risk it could be infected.
At a press conference on Friday, Sewell was still not able to give any updates on the investigation about its progress or other relevant information to the crime, but said the FBI’s Birmingham field office was working with local law enforcement to identify the source of the hacking.
The first week of school, students might be without computers or internet access, but Sewell said it could be an insightful opportunity to learn about schooling before advanced technology.
“School was taught for many years without a computer,” Sewell said. “We’re bare bones, but we are up and running and school will start on the twelfth, that’s the biggest thing.”
Schools were initially scheduled to open for students on Aug. 1. On July 23, Sewell was made aware of a malware attack on the system’s servers that affected phone and internet service. Two days later, he announced school would be postponed to Aug. 5 because of issues related to the attack.
Earlier this week, Sewell announced that school would be delayed another week to Aug.12, after he said the district has not been recovering from the hack as quickly as he had hoped.
The system has more than 4,000 devices connected to the school’s network, which has to be rebuilt.
Teacher will not have access to personal work laptops until sometime in October when they receive new personal computers due to the persistent threat of malicious software.
Houston County school officials continue to not confirm or deny that the attack involved ransomware, a kind of malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.
Schools around the country continue to report hacking of their internal systems. This past week, New York and New Mexico both fell prey to ransomware attacks.
The Las Vegas Sun also reported that names and “in some instances” dates of birth of more than 550,000 former and current Clark County School District students were compromised in a data security incident on Aug. 1.