Oxford School District suffers network outage


Matt Simpson

On Sunday, Feb. 7, between 7 and 8 a.m., the Oxford School District suffered a serious blow.

What appeared to be a semi-normal case of “the internet being down,” was actually the result of an attack from ransomware. Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing certain files and forces users to pay a ransom through methods of internet payment, such as bitcoins.

“What [ransomware] does is it takes the permissions of an admin user and uses those permissions to lock some files,” said OSD Superintendent Brian Harvey. “Once it locks those files, then it basically holds the files for ransom so that you have to pay a certain amount in order to get the key to unlock the files.

“They wanted us to pay 21 bitcoins or about $8,000.”

Luckily, the Oxford School District did not have to pay the ransom because the district’s tech department is always backing up the servers.

“We’ve had a process of backing things up, whether it be grades or employee information, or that kind of thing,” Harvey said. “And to my knowledge, those are all fine. Now we are just in the process of putting it all back together.”

Whoever the cyber attacker was faces serious consequences if the guilty party ever gets caught.

“It was a person somewhere; they could be next door, they could be across the world,” Harvey said. “If this was a student, they would certainly be suspended from school, or expelled. Also, they would face some criminal charges.”

The internet was down during all of Monday, and Schoology and PowerSchool were down until Wednesday and Friday, respectively. Teachers had to adapt to the situation. Everybody at OHS is used to relying upon the internet to complete most tasks.

“It caused us all to adjust what we are doing,” said history teacher Daniel Parrish. “We got to school and realized that we just had to adjust. My class went and got some books from the library on World War II and we just improvised.”

The network outage affected all of the students at OHS as well.

“It kind of set me back a bit, but that didn’t stop any of my teachers from continuing to teach,” said sophomore Michael Takerer. “I had some trouble submitting some things, but other than that, I did pretty well I guess.”