Cyberattack Affects Mansfield ISD Systems, more


Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Students and staff throughout the district have been without internet since Aug. 22. There is no estimate on when services will be restored. Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

Abigail Morris, News Editor

After losing internet connection on Aug. 22, students and teachers remain without devices connected to WiFi. Mansfield ISD released a statement later that evening informing parents and staff of a cyberattack. MISD administration contacted the authorities, but district officials have not released a timeline of when all computer systems will be restored. 

The outage affected all phone systems, Raptor visitor systems, Skyward Student Management System, all MISD websites, email and all WiFi and internet connections.

According to IT specialists, ransomware attacks typically have one of two outcomes: the money is paid to the person(s) behind the attack, or the district is forced to rebuild its systems from scratch. Again, district officials have not released specific information on this attack, or if backups are in place to replace any lost information, but some of MISD’s sites are housed on off-site servers. The library remains fully functional, with the check-out systems and online catalogs housed at Region 11. Teachers have taken attendance by hand and submitted on paper until systems are restored.

In a statement to the community, Superintendent Dr. Kimberley Cantu said once the issue was discovered, they immediately notified the appropriate authorities and are working closely with them to resolve the situation. Students have been safely learning inside the campuses and they will continue to have school, providing the best learning environment possible without the use of Internet and web-based systems.

Dozens of Texas school districts suffered from ransomware throughout the past five years. The best way to prevent attacks is to back up systems because once the hackers break in, the ransomware prevents staff and students from using sites such as Classlink, Skyward, Canvas, the MISD website, and the phone/email systems, but principal Dr. Stephanie Bonneau believes it won’t cause serious problems for individual campuses. 

“We are having to make some adjustments in how we do attendance and some other things like that,” Dr. Bonneau said. “As far as day-to-day operations go, the impact shouldn’t be felt by students a whole lot.”

The lack of internet causes teachers to adjust lessons, and some students worry they’ll end up behind on work. However, junior Emma Johnson views the change as an improvement. 

“It’s a good experience for hands-on learning,” Johnson said. “The teachers are thinking ahead and giving us proper work while still apologizing for the inconvenience.”

The cyberattack also impacted MISD’s visitor management system. Raptor monitors all incoming volunteers and check-ins, so until the investigation ends, all schools are closed to guests. 

In her statement, Dr. Cantu said they “love our parents and community members, but safety is their number one priority.” They are working diligently to investigate the source of the disruption, confirm the extent of the impact on our systems, and restore full functionality as quickly and securely as possible.

Follow The Rider for more on this developing story.