Houston County School malware attack

Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza, Houston County School Superintendent David Sewell, school board Chairman Vince Wade, and Technology Director Bob Blalock share limited details on a malware attack on district servers with the media at a press conference at the Houston County Board of Education boardroom.


Houston County Schools is postponing the school start date several days to Monday, Aug. 5.

The reason, Superintendent David Sewell confirmed, is an apparent malware attack of the school system's servers that has affected telecommunications and computer functionality school-wide.

Malware, or malicious software, is any program or file that is harmful to a computer user. Types of malware can include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and spyware.

Officials were made aware of the hack Tuesday morning, but Sewell could not confirm the extent of the attack as of Thursday afternoon.

"We have people working hard to re-install everything and bring everything back up to speed and get back to normal," he said at a press conference on Thursday.

No one present could comment on whether the hack affected student or payroll information, but teachers have been asked to not use their school computers until further notice.

Sewell said that staff pay should not be affected by the hack.

"Naturally, we'll partnership up with our federal agencies, the FBI and a couple of others, and talk with some the agencies that have had it done and we're in contact with them," Sheriff Donald Valenza said at the press event. "They're working on it with us."

Sewell said the start date pushback was due to staffers needing additional days to prepare for students arrival after missing two days of work due to the internet problems.

He added that the State Department of Education advised that the school system would not need to add additional school days to the back end of calendar.

Phone service at central office has been down since Wednesday and it is unclear when it will be back up and running. At this time, it is unclear to what extent the malware has affected the school system's servers.

Sewell called an emergency meeting Wednesday for an executive session, which is usually held to discuss legal matters or issues of good name and character of an employee, although some other reasons qualify.

"Upon advisement of counsel and law enforcement, we are unable to provide further information at this time," Sewell said in a statement.

All teachers and staff will report to the schools as scheduled.

Open house has been moved back to Thursday, Aug. 1 at 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.

More information is expected to be released at a later time.

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