Cyber ​​attacks close schools and disrupt local prison in New

It is one of the most visceral recent examples of the toll that ransomware and other forms of hacking can take on American lives as the Biden administration tries to crack down on cybercriminals who perpetrate digital robberies.

Albuquerque’s public school system – which includes 144 schools and serves about a quarter of New Mexico’s public school students – said it would close Thursday and Friday because “cyber attacks” “compromised some systems”. that could affect teaching, learning and student safety.”

Meanwhile, after ransomware infected the computer systems of Bernalillo County, home of Albuquerque, on January 5, most administrative buildings were closed to the public on Thursday, county spokeswoman Tia Bland told CNN. The New Mexico Association of Realtors said county residents were unable to pay a mortgage because of the ransomware attack.

“The FBI takes all cybercrime seriously and is aware of the incident at Albuquerque public schools today,” the FBI’s Albuquerque office said in a statement to CNN. “At this time, it does not appear that the APS and Bernalillo County cyber incidents are related.”

It was not clear who was responsible for the individual hacking incidents. Bland declined to comment on the type of ransomware used, citing an ongoing investigation. It was not clear whether ransomware was involved in the public schools incident. Monica Armenta, who oversees communications for Albuquerque Public Schools, said she was not available for comment by publication time.

Albuquerque Teachers Federation President Ellen Bernstein said the cybersecurity incident added to the stress placed on schools by the coronavirus and was “particularly difficult for students and their families”, forcing school to be canceled at the last minute Was.

“I feel like if you could brainstorm everything that would make teaching difficult, that was the next thing,” Bernstein told CNN. However, the break in classroom activity does offer relief for schools that are grappling with staffing shortages, she said.

Bernstein said computer systems used to take school attendance, contact parents and keep grades were disrupted by the hack. “People are a little concerned to know how bad it may or may not be,” she said.

The public school system said it expected to reopen on Tuesday after a public holiday on Monday.

Governments are being affected by ransomware attacks

Ransomware attacks have plagued state and local governments for years, which often do not have the money and staff to tackle the threat. According to The Baltimore Sun, the 2019 attack on the city of Baltimore halted the city’s ability to process water bill payments for three months. Baltimore officials estimated at the time that the ransomware attack would cost the city at least $18 million.

US lawmakers and the Biden administration are channeling resources to strengthen state and local cyber security. The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden signed into law in November includes $1 billion over four years to help strengthen state and local governments, and the networks of tribes and territories.
Ransomware attack affected 5,000 school websites

Every week another reminder of why resources are needed.

The ransomware incident in Bernalillo County forced the county jail to temporarily go into lockdown and suspend visitor access because the facility’s cameras and other technology were not working.

The prison’s automatic doors were temporarily out of order, and the hack hit a database the prison uses to record inmate incident reports, according to an emergency notice the prison sent to federal court in New Mexico on January 6. was filed.

On its website, the Metropolitan Detention Center says it continues to operate and is “receiving and releasing prisoners.” Bernalillo County spokesman Bland said in an email Thursday that “progress is being made daily regarding the MDC cameras. There is no time frame for the project’s completion.”

CNN’s Julia Vargas Jones contributed reporting.


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