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Monroe-Woodbury School District Confident Data Not Compromised Following Cyber Attack

CENTRAL VALLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The largest school district in suburban Orange County was forced to cancel the first day of classes Wednesday after a cyber attack on its computer system.

The district's superintendent told CBS2's Tony Aiello she's confident none of the data was compromised.

Reading, writing and now ransomware. An attempted hack of the Monroe-Woodbury School District was foiled in the nick of time because it spends more than $100,000 a year on cyber security.

Monroe-Woodbury School District
(Photo: CBS2)

The desktop computers were dark and the printers were silent Wednesday, as Monroe-Woodbury labored to make sure its system is still in fine working order.

"We've been very, very proactive in making sure we have firewalls and security and software," district Superintendent Elsie Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said an alarm from the district's cyber security monitoring service allowed officials to shut the network down before hackers could hold it for ransom.

Classes were cancelled at all seven schools, while data from backup servers was restored and student schedules were printed.

"Fortunately, at this point we don't believe that any of our data has been breached, but we have a cyber security assessment team that is coming in and they will go through this process," Rodriguez said. "It will take us a while, so for the time being we're using paper and pen. We're going back to the old days."

It was a disruptive day for many families that planned on kids attending school.

"I'm the grandparent. I'm not working now, so it was easy for me to step in and take 'em for the day, but I'm sure there were plenty of other parents in the area that had to scramble make other arrangements," Central Valley resident Gayla Fontana said, adding about the attempted hack, "It's getting to be the norm nowadays. There's so many people that are making a living off of doing things like this. It's sad. It's sad."

When asked how she feels about the start of school being delayed, fifth grader Gabby Fontana said, "I don't like it. I want to start school, because I like school."

The incident in Orange County is at least the fifth cyber attack on a New York state school district this summer. Rockville Centre in Nassau County paid a hacker $88,000 after a ransomware attack shut down the district's mainframe.

"Ransomware is prolific right now and there's more of it going on in government and education institutions than in private industry. We seem to be targets now," said Anthony Carfora of the Lupinskie Center for Current Technology.

The Monroe-Woodbury district has been upgrading its cyber security systems for years because of the growing threat.

Superintendent Rodriguez said the district is on track to open its schools on Thursday.

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