Jersey school is attacked by cyber criminals demanding ransom

Matt Palmer, director of the government’s Cyber Emergency Response Team (CERT) Picture: James Jeune (34915024)

A JERSEY school has been targeted by cyber criminals who have demanded payment to unblock data held in its IT systems.

The Island’s Cyber Emergency Response Team has confirmed that it is supporting De La Salle College with a ‘ransomware incident’, which usually involves an attacker preventing its target from accessing its own digital information before offering to return it at a cost.

In a statement, the school said that data had been ‘encrypted’, that it had no access to its own systems and that it had ‘received a ransomware request’.

The statement continued: ‘There is currently no evidence to suggest that any data has left our systems. We are working with all of the relevant authorities and have made all of the requisite notifications in this regard.

‘We will make no further statement in this regard until new information is available.’

CERT director Matt Palmer said: ‘We are supporting a local school with a ransomware incident.

‘A ransomware [incident] is where an attacker accesses your systems and encrypts the data – so makes it inaccessible to you – and then if you want access to that information, they ask you to pay a ransom. Then they would decrypt the data and potentially give it back, although, that said, there are many situations in which ransomware payments are made and the data is not returned.’

He added: ‘Unfortunately, attacks like this are a regular occurrence and no one is immune.

‘Not all attacks are caused by phishing emails. Often attackers will find a vulnerable or old system and use that to gain access.’

He urged local organisations to ensure their systems were up-to-date and ‘locked down as far as possible’ with regular backups kept separately to minimise the chance of a ransomware attack.

‘All external systems should use two-factor authentication, which is where you have both a password and another form of identification such as a code from a mobile app. It’s also important to monitor systems to detect attacks quickly. Anyone needing advice on preventing ransomware attacks can visit’

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