APS leaders address cyberattack

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Children across Albuquerque might be back in the classroom, but the investigation into the cyberattack that kept them out for two days last week is still in the beginning stages.

"It should be very clear to everyone that someone intentionally, aggressively, and very publicly tried to harm our school community,” said APS Superintendent Scott Elder. “We have to assume that that entity is still watching our every move."

Elder shared new information about the attack Tuesday evening. He confirmed that it was ransomware, but couldn’t provide information on payment. He also revealed that there is no evidence right now that any staff, student, or family information was compromised.

IT teams were able to keep the attack confined to the student information system that controls daily tasks like taking attendance and contacting families during emergencies.

Immediately after the attack last week, Elder says the IT department made an emergency request for up to $300,000 for assistance from private security firms.

"What will happen is we move on, we learn exactly what happened, how it happened, and then we can build the defenses on that,” said Elder.

He believes the district’s defenses constantly need to change and adapt to hackers’ innovative attempts.

"I don’t know that people really understood how much or how many attacks occur on school systems,” said Elder. “And then when we did move to virtual, we just created more points of access."

Elder also commented on what he believes state and federal officials could do to help APS, and other vulnerable districts across the state and country.

"I wonder if they shouldn’t be convening in some sort of federal or state task force to really look at how they’re funding and providing resources for our IT teams so that we are better informed and have the resources at our fingertips that we need to protect that information,” said Superintendent Elder.

Students will have to make up the two missed days from last week at the end of the semester.