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January 07, 2022

Ransomware Attack On Finalsite Causing Havoc For US Schools

Students, teachers, and administrators in school districts across America have been dealt a bad hand during the pandemic. Social distancing guidelines forced many schools to conduct virtual curriculums, with varying degrees of success. After months of progress toward heading back into the classroom, students and teachers were then forced back into remote conditions as the omnicron variant emerged. As if the pandemic itself wasn’t enough trouble, now some school districts are dealing with the fallout of a recent ransomware attack.

According to a recent article by TechCrunch, school districts utilizing the website management services of Finalsite were forced to shut down school websites as a result of a ransomware attack on Finalsite’s network. The attack caused website outages for schools in numerous districts across the country, while also preventing site administrators from sending out important email updates to students and parents. Representatives with Finalsite initially claimed the issues were due to “performance difficulties, but later revealed the confirmation of ransomware within their systems.

On January 4th, Finalsite released an official press release to provide details related to the attack, as well as consistent updates on the progress being made to get sites back up and running.

“In the ensuing time since the incident, our security, infrastructure, and engineering teams have been working around the clock to restore backup systems and bring our network back to full performance, in a safe and secure manner. Third-party forensic specialists are assisting us in bringing things back slowly and carefully to ensure the environment is safe and stable.”

As of January 7th, the press release claims the majority of customer sites are fully functional, and the company claims there is no evidence of data being  stolen or compromised. While Finalsite may have avoided the worst-case scenario of a ransomware attack, the news is yet another reminder of the relentless nature of online hackers. Companies like Finalsite, who have large customer bases which rely on their services to stay functional, need to enhance their security measures to a maximum degree. Although no system is flawless, advancements in AI, automation, and managed services are making it easier to halt attacks before they sink their teeth.

In the post-pandemic era, company leaders need to get serious about the severity of ransomware. If hackers are under the impression major tech-centric businesses like Finalsite are exploitable, then who knows what they might try on less-equipt companies. Investing in cybersecurity should be a priority for every organization across the globe, because these attacks won’t be slowing down anytime soon.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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