cyber

MANY, La. -- Cyber attacks targeting several Louisiana school districts last month prompted the declaration of emergency across the state. Now as students head back to class, some of the school systems are still in recovery mode. 

Sabine Parish schools Superintendent Sara Ebarb said the district has overcome most of the problems caused by the cyber attack but is still not 100 percent. They have close to 1,100 computers working and have access to their network.

This means teachers are able to use things like their smart boards and tablets in the classroom.

"We were hit with an electronic virus called Ryuk. This was early morning July 21st. When that happened, it locked down our servers and encrypted our data. The experts are telling us that it wasn't a virus that steals data but actually locks it down and encrypts it," said Ebarb.

Then, attackers ask for bitcoins and in return, they promised to give back access to the server and all the data. However, Ebarb said, they will not negotiate with terrorists.

"Well, it's an organized crime organization that operates on the dark web. What they want is for us to pay them in bitcoins to unlock the data. And, of course, they are cyber terrorist and we are not negotiating with terrorist so we just gotta move on," Ebarb said.

The attack meant the district's entire server was inaccessible, putting the system into chaos just weeks before school was scheduled to start.

The Louisiana National Guard sent a team to Sabine Parish that included both military and civilian computer experts. Also, an expert from Microsoft was sent to help rebuild their network. 

The superintendent added, her team has been working hard since the attack.

In nearby DeSoto Parish, the school system was targeted but not infected. School leaders took aggressive security measures to avoid getting the virus.

DeSoto Parish schools Superintendent Clay Corley said when they learned the district was being targeted they locked down their own system.

They are accessing their own server little by little. He compared the situation to a bomb threat and explained they are looking for any possible weaknesses in their system.

"If there were a bomb threat on one of your campuses you would go into lock down, you would search every locker, you would search every room, you would go through every inch of the campus to make sure they are no threats remaining before you come out of lock down. This is what we are doing," Corley said.

This is why they are not 100 percent back online. However, he said they are about 25 percent away from reaching their goal.

Tangipahoa Parish schools, Morehouse Parish schools and Monroe City schools were also impacted by cyber attacks.

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