Judson Independent School District officials confirmed Thursday that the district has been the victim of a ransomware attack, as school officials worked to establish a call center to answer questions and provide information, according to a district statement.
The district of roughly 24,000 students and 3,200 staff members alerted families and employees June 18 that it suspected Judson ISD’s information technology systems had been compromised by a cybersecurity attack. District staff have been unable to access email or phone lines and other systems connected to the internet since June 17. It is still unclear what information may have been accessed.
“This has been a difficult time for our school district, and it is representative of the cybersecurity risks all institutions, businesses, and individuals face in today’s connected world,” the statement said.
Judson ISD set up phone numbers to answer inquiries about summer school programs and transportation. On Monday, people will be able to dial a district call center to assist with other inquiries.
- Elementary school summer program: 210-540-9145
- Middle school summer program: 210-410-0939
- High school summer program: 210-380-2771
- Transportation: 210-740-4218 or 210-896-1735
The district distributed laptops and cellphones to administrative staff and those working in summer school programs, said Lacey Gosch, assistant superintendent of technology, at Thursday’s school board meeting. Students finishing up their annual state standardized tests received hotspots and Chromebooks, and Judson ISD is asking staff with laptops at home to bring them in to have additional security software installed.
School district officials have contacted the FBI and state and local law enforcement officials after they found out about the cyber intrusion. Judson ISD also informed the Texas Education Agency of the cyberattack, a requirement under state law. The district also must notify the parents or guardians of students whose information has been accessed by unauthorized parties.
A TEA spokeswoman said Thursday that the agency provides “guidance and administrative support” when needed in these situations. The agency has never made any ransom payments.
The board voted last week to give Superintendent Jeanette Ball emergency power to purchase services, supplies, and equipment to repair the district’s systems and restore operational functions. Ball said Judson ISD’s insurance company recommended the district hire a third-party contractor to determine the cause and extent of the intrusion. The board hired BlueVoyant, a cybersecurity company with ransomware attack experience. The board also approved hiring a communications company to inform people whose information was potentially breached by the intrusion.
If you have information about the cyberattack, contact Judson ISD via email at JISD.firstname.lastname@example.org.