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Baltimore County Students, Staff Rush To Make Sure There Are No Lingering Ransomware Issues On Devices After Cyberattack

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) -- Baltimore County Public Schools officials said virtual learning will resume Wednesday after a ransomware cyberattack last week.

All Baltimore County Public Schools closed last Wednesday after the school system was hit with a ransomware cyber attack. The district said its entire network system was inaccessible after an unknown actor took over and demanded ransom.


Baltimore County Public Schools Superintended Dr. Darryl Williams said parents and students should expect a different experience Wednesday as students will have to log in a different way to reconnect with their teachers.

"We are happy to affirm that school will resume tomorrow for all students," Williams said, telling parents to look at for more details.

Williams also asked that parents look for malware that may be on their devices. Experts were available from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at area high schools to help parents check their devices.

baltco school ransomware device check
Baltimore County Public Schools staff members line up to have their devices checked following a ransomware attack that forced virtual learning to shut down for three school days.

Lines formed at some schools as staff members and teachers swapped out infected devices.

"It doesn't feel good, probably lost some data but I feel pretty good that the school system was able to quickly get me a new device," said staff member Mike Grubbs, one of those whose devices were infected.

Even though Chromebooks were believed to not be affected, some parents brought them in to be exchanged anyway.

The students will continue to learn through Schoology and Google Meets but there's a workaround in place to help students log back into the system. Students will still see their grades and assignments in Schoology.

"We have been able to pivot the way that students log into it so that they can once again reconnect with our teachers," said James Corns, the executive director of the school system's information technology department. "We've also re-established our connections with Google, which allows our students to participate through Google Meets."

Cindy Sexton, the president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, said her members will be ready for any challenge that comes on Wednesday.

Corns said the investigation continues into the ransomware attack. They are still working to learn the impact on files and equipment.

They have brought in additional IT help to support the school system as they get their system back up.

Watch the school system's full Tuesday afternoon news conference below:

Help has also come in from the state level. During his COVID-19 news conference Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Larry Hogan said the state was assisting the county in an advisory capacity.

The attack is "obviously a concern to other counties as well," he said.

"I know this was something that they were working on trying to fix and didn't quite get it done in time, and hopefully some of our other counties are not in the same position but it's certainly a threat," he said.

Watch Gov. Hogan's full Tuesday afternoon news conference below:

Another issue of concern to staff was whether the attack would affect their paychecks.

At this point, Williams said that system appears to be fine.

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