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EXCLUSIVE: Possible Ransomeware Virus Shuts Down Montebello Unified School District Computer System


July 12, 2019, 2:40 PM


Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News has obtained an email that indicates the Montebello Unified School District computer system has been infected by a virus, causing a shut-down of the entire system.

One source told HMG-LCCN that the virus could be Ransomware.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. Ransomware typically spreads through fishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website.

The alert email was sent Thursday, July 11 at 7:34 PM from MUSD, but HMG-LCCN confirmed the system went down earlier in the morning.

The email stated, “the district network is currently under cyberattack and most of the services, such as file sharing, network applications, nutrition’s PCS SchoolCity, Synergy, etc., have been shut down. This will continue throughout most of the day tomorrow as we will continue work with our vendors to illuminate the virus. Email and Internet should be fully functional.

HMG-LCCN confirmed this afternoon that the MUSD system remains shut down.

According to Symantec, Ransomware can come in many shapes and sizes. Some variants may be more harmful than others, but they all have one thing in common: a ransom. The five types of ransomware are:

  • Crypto malware. This is a well-known form of ransomware and can cause a great deal of damage. One of the most familiar examples is the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack, which targeted thousands of computers around the world and spread itself within corporate networks globally.
  • Lockers. This kind of ransomware is known for infecting your operating system to completely lock you out of your computer, making it impossible to access any of your files or applications.
  • Scareware. This is fake software that acts like an antivirus or a cleaning tool. Scareware often claims to have found issues on your computer, demanding money to resolve the issue. Some types of scareware lock your computer, while others flood your screen with annoying alerts and pop-up messages.
  • Doxware. Commonly referred to as leakware, doxware threatens to publish your stolen information online if you don’t pay the ransom. As more people store sensitive files and personal photos on their computers, it’s understandable that many individuals panic and pay the ransom when their files have been hijacked.
  • RaaS. Otherwise known as “Ransomware as a Service,” RaaS is a type of malware hosted anonymously by a hacker. These criminals handle everything from distributing the ransomware and collecting payments to managing decryptors — software that restores data access — in exchange for their cut of the ransom.

Ransomware remains a popular means of attack, and new ransomware families are discovered every year. Reported attacks in the U.S. dropped from 2,673 in 2016 to 1,783 in 2017.