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Buffalo Public Schools to bring back students Monday

Buffalo Public Schools

Buffalo Public Schools will try again to bring 5,000 students back to the classroom Monday, after a year of virtual school. They were supposed to be back this week, but a ransomware attack on the district's computer system stopped that.The entire district is on virtual learning Thursday and will be Friday, even the thousands who were back in the classroom before the computer attack.

Speaking to the Buffalo School Board Wednesday evening, Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash was a little vague about what happened, saying he couldn’t give details because of a federal investigation. However, Cash did say it was part of a pattern of attacks on school systems using hacking methods.

"There’s been two types of cyberattacks on schools. One is called a distribution denial of service that attacks and overwhelms the internet bandwidth. That’s called a DDOS attack," he said, "And then there is the ransomware attack where the hacker or hackers take control of the target’s computer system and demand some kind of ransom."

While confirming the ransomware attack on city schools, Cash gave no information on what was sought, perhaps because of the federal investigators or because the hackers are overseas somewhere.

"Keep in mind, colleagues, that this is a criminal investigation and that we are probably being watched at this time," Cash said. "So we keep our comments at a very high level, while it’s examined more fully what has happened."

Cash said the attack may speed up bringing more students back to buildings in early April.

Chief Technology Officer Myra Burden told the School Board there will be a plan to prevent this from ever happening again.

"This plan is also going to include a transformational road map that will illustrate how to plan our infrastructure and our security controls," Burden said. "We will continue to increase employee security awareness for cyber and, also, of course, we will continue monitoring our schools for stabilization."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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