Franklin Parish principals and central office personnel worked late Sunday night turning off computers and disconnecting internet networks at parish schools and School Board buildings after the Louisiana Department of Education released a statewide cyber attack warning.
Officials now face a six-phase recovery plan outlined by the Louisiana Cyber Security Commission to put school system computer networks back on line.
The announcement was made at the Franklin Parish School Board’s regular meeting Monday night.
The downed computer network has no affect on the first day of school, said Franklin Parish School Superintendent Lanny Johnson.
“The first day of school will be on schedule no matter what,” Johnson said.
Currently, the school system is at the end of the first phase while it waits for the systems internet provider.
“(At phase two) we will start turning things on piece by piece,” said Matt Sebren, Franklin Parish schools computer technician. “We will start on critical services in our information systems first. As we do this we will be looking at end-bound and out-bound activity for any suspicious actions. If we find any, we will coordinate with the task force and FBI and go from there.”
Phase two and phase three should be completed by Wednesday, Sebren said. The completion date of the phases is unknown.
In recent weeks, City of Monroe, Sabine, Tangipahoa and Morehouse school systems were plagued with cyber attacks prompting Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards to issue a statewide emergency declaration July 24. This is the first statewide cyber security emergency enabling the state to garner needed resources, including cyber security experts from Louisiana National Guard, State Police, Office of Technology Services, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and Louisiana State University.
“This is exactly why we established the Cyber Security Commission, focused on preparing for, responding to and preventing cyber security attacks, and we are well-positioned to assist local governments as they battle this current threat,” Edwards said in the declaration.
The Cyber Security Commission was established in 2017.
Last month, school systems were hit by what Louisiana governmental officials have described as ransom ware attacks, where hackers take over and encrypt vital cyber systems and demand a ransom to release the data. Ransoms have been as high as $100,000, Sebren said.
Meanwhile, School Board members awarded a bid for workstations for Horace G. White Learning Center to Pettus Office Products of Monroe. Pettus Office Products low bid was $36,000.
The workstations will match existing stations, and the price includes installation.
On another front, School Board members approved an addendum giving a clearer identity to honor students in the pupil progression plan.