RIALTO (CBSLA) – The Rialto Unified School District in San Bernardino County has been forced to temporarily suspend virtual instruction after its system was hit with a malware attack.
The K-12 district, which has 28 schools and serves about 25,000 students, announced on its website Sunday night that as a result of the attack, it shut down its network and has been forced to temporarily stop online classes.
“Rialto Unified School District has been affected by malware, which is software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorized access to the computer system,” the district said in a statement. “RUSD instruction will be suspended until further notice, while we investigate the nature and scope of the malware,” the district said in a statement on its website.”
Cybersecurity experts say these attacks have been on the rise during the pandemic as more people are working remotely, and possibly using their personal devices, and they can come in various forms.
“Ransomware is really a scary thing because once it gets on your computer, it basically locks you out of everything,” cybersecurity expert Jim Stickley said. “Malware gets on your computer takes it over and then it says, hey, if you want to have access to all of your files, the internet, or anything else, you need to pay a fee.”
Strickley says the malware attack on the Rialto Unified School District could take days or weeks to clean up, depending on how widespread it is. It is unclear when classes will resume.
Meantime, the district said it is starting to pick up devices from students and teachers, and they’re asking people to stop using school-issued devices or apps while the malware attack is being investigated.
Other school districts, including the Lake Elsinore Unified School District, also had disruptions on Monday after some teachers and students were locked out of Zoom. A district spokesperson said classes were able to resume with a back-up video conferencing app.
Anyone can be susceptible to attacks, but experts say these are some of the best ways to prevent becoming a victim:
- Keep your computer and software updated
- Make sure you’re downloading things and opening links from trusted sources
- Be careful about opening email attachments/images and verify sender information
- Beware of suspicious pop-up windows
- Use a trusted antivirus software