A New Cyber Threat to Area Schools

Red River Parish schools are remaining vigilant against a new wave of cyber-attacks that have struck several other school districts in this state.  This threat is something new that may be able to get around traditional protection programs.

The Journal talked with Carey Prosperie, the Technology Coordinator for Red River schools.  Prosperie said, “So far, so good!  We have been in on the Governor’s Cyber Commission (Defense Cyber Operations Element) discussion sessions.”

The advice he is getting is “don’t rely on any protection you have.  This is a totally new type of attack that gets around available protection programs.”  Prosperie added, “We are following state recommendations and operating as restricted as possible opening our network only to what is needed for the schools to operate.”

“I have emailed our staff,” added Prosperie, “I told them  don’t open any unknown attachments or anything suspicious.”  So far, Prosperie said, “The experts are not really sure how (this new threat) enters a computer system.”

For now, he said school employees will not be browsing the internet as usual.  “We are taking necessary steps to keep everything safe,” added Prosperie.

Across Louisiana four school districts have been attacked.  They are Tangipahoa Parish, the City of Monroe, Morehouse Parish and nearby Sabine Parish school districts.

The Journal interviewed Prosperie on Wednesday morning.  Then on Thursday morning the district sent out this advisory to the public and school personnel:

A message from RED RIVER PARISH SCHOOL DIST

“Hello, this is Carey Prosperie calling for Red River Parish Schools.  Governor John Bel Edwards has declared a statewide cybersecurity emergency due to malware attacks that are affecting several school districts in the state at this time.  During this cybersecurity emergency, all school districts are to restrict their Internet usage for critical services only.

“As a result, all of our schools will temporarily lose phones and Internet use until our Internet protection firewall can be properly configured.  Until the phones become operational again, please come to the schools in person to take care of any business.

“Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time of interrupted service.”


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