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Board declares public emergency over TPSS cybersecurity attack

Board declares public emergency over TPSS cybersecurity attack

Author: Action News 17/Tuesday, August 6, 2019/Categories: Front Page, Latest Stories

AMITE---The Tangipahoa Parish School Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to declare a public emergency for the school district which was “paralyzed” over the last day by a cyber terrorism attack.

In a resolution presented by the board’s legal counsel and the administration, the School Board authorized Superintendent Melissa Stilley to contract for services related to the data recovery and restoration of the district’s network operating system and to bring their network back online as quickly as possible while preventing any further threats to the system.

The resolution, required under state law, will help the district complete a host of tasks to get the network back up and critical services operating for the start of school on Monday.

Tangipahoa is one of a handful of school systems across Louisiana targeted in the attack. District technology director Mike Diaz said the goal of such an attack is to lock down the computer system by encrypting the data and making it irretrievable. He said there is no “data breach” involved; the district simply cannot access any of the info trapped behind the cyber wall.

Diaz said teams are working around the clock to wipe the school system’s 10-11,000 individual Windows-based devices, which appear to be the ones most impacted by the attack. The district’s Chromebooks, which are portable, laptop-style devices typically housed on carts around campus, are not impacted and will be accessible when school resumes Monday, Diaz said.

At this time, the technology team is rebuilding the district’s 200-unit server farm. The wireless network at school system properties has been rebuilt from the ground up and Diaz said every firewall and switch on the network is being changed out post-attack. User-based software will be added back to the network tomorrow, as will some other critical devices like printers and SmartBoards. Technology will test the system Thursday with plans to have everything back in place for Friday.

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