‘Are our kids safe at home?’ - Mid-Michigan parents want answers after cyberattack

Schools in Jackson and Hillsdale County were closed for three days after attack
Hackers got into Jackson County Intermediate School District’s system Sunday and installed ransomware.
Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 6:17 PM EST
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) - All public schools in Jackson and Hillsdale counties will be open Thursday, although students will have limited access to technology.

Background: Schools in Jackson, Hillsdale counties to reopen Thursday following cyberattack

The schools have been closed since Monday because of a ransomware attack at the Jackson County Intermediate School District. Parents tell News 10 they have more questions than answers.

“I’m very surprised. I never even heard of ransomware until this,” said one Michigan Center parent who didn’t want to go on camera.

Hackers got into Jackson County Intermediate School District’s system Sunday and installed ransomware that locks the servers until the hacker is paid - usually millions of dollars - to get the system back.

Every public school in Jackson and Hillsdale counties have been closed since Monday because of it.

“I would really appreciate the district to let us know what kind of information about our kids with whoever sent the ransomware,” the parent said.

The parent said she’s worried about the cyberattack.

“Are our kids safe at home? Are our kids safe at school? Do these people have too much information about our individual kids?” she asked.

The intermediate school district provides technology services to individual school districts in Jackson and Hillsdale counties.

This parent wishes her kids would be able to back to school despite the attack.

“You would think they could still go to school and do stuff on paper like we used to,” said the parent.

News 10 tried talking with Jackson Public Schools and other schools in the county. They wouldn’t do an interview but they said part of the problem is keyfob access was impacted by the cyberattack and so were the phone lines. They also don’t have to risk having devices ping onto the wifi network.

Experts said schools are becoming victims of ransomware attacks more often.

Researchers at Kasperksy, a global cybersecurity company, found most parents would support paying the ransom to get technology systems back, but experts say that’s a bad idea.

“We would always recommend to not pay the ransom, because we have to stop supporting those cybercriminals in those operations,” said Marc Rivero, cybersecurity researcher.

The Jackson County Intermediate School District said its technology department is working around the clock to get the system back.

The FBI told News 10 it is helping state and local law enforcement with the investigation.

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