The Richland School District website is back after the discovery of ransomware on the servers of the company that hosts it.
Finalsite, the Connecticut-based company that hosts the district’s website, discovered the presence of ransomware on its servers on January 4, according to a company statement.
Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents people from accessing their computer systems unless they pay a ransom.
In order to protect school data, the company has taken down the websites of schools it hosts across the country. School and company officials pointed out that the ransomware was never triggered and that no one was stuck on the systems.
“Our engineering team did this proactively to protect customer data,” the statement said. “The team then began to rebuild websites in a new secure environment. ”
Ty Beaver, Richland’s communications director, said no student data and little staff data was stored through Finalsite. None of the information on the site was at risk.
The district, which has 13,700 students, lost access to its website as snow hit the Tri-Cities and students returned to class after the holidays.
People searching for information about COVID infections, school delays, or other information and couldn’t find it. Prompting a lot to call or email the district.
They were able to use social media and text messaging services to notify parents of closures and delays caused by storms.
And they set up a temporary website on Thursday. After the full website was up and running again, the temporary site was deleted.
People figured out the blackout, Beaver said.
The district initially launched its website with Finalsite in 2019, and this is the first time it has encountered major issues other than minor technical issues.
District officials plan to work with the company to ensure there are other alternatives if the system stops working, Beaver said.
“It concerns us when something isn’t working the way it should,” he said. “We will continue to work with Finalsite to ensure that our websites are performing at their optimum level. ”
Finalsite is starting its own investigation that the company estimates it could take weeks, the company said.
“The remainder of the investigation is to confirm these findings and ensure compliance with applicable laws,” according to the statement from Finalsite. “If there is any discrepancy in our conclusions during the remainder of the investigation, we will promptly notify customers and take the next appropriate action.”