Ransomware attack shuts down entire Haverhill school district

HAVERHILL, Mass. — Haverhill Public Schools could reopen Friday, a day after a cyberattack forced their closure, according to the district’s superintendent Margaret Marotta.

Classes across Haverhill Public Schools are canceled Thursday after a ransomware attack on the district’s computer system.

Haverhill Police and Homeland Security are now investigating the cyberattack that put the entire district on pause during a vulnerable time.

Haverhill elementary students in grades 2, 3 and 4 were supposed to be heading back to class on Thursday for the first time in over a year.

An extra day will be added to the end of the school year for the canceled in-person and remote learning day.

“I think if it were a different day if it wasn’t the first day and the first week we have many kids back to school we would have been open,” Marotta said.

The Haverhill School District said its IT Department is working with the Department of Homeland Security and Haverhill Police to bring the online systems back.

“I don’t like it because I just like going to school and seeing my friends,” said Liliana Burdin, a student at Tilton Elementary School.

Robert Siciliano, CEO of Protect Now, told Boston 25 News that ransomware attacks are on the rise across the world.

“Municipalities worldwide are being targeted in such a way that their systems are being knocked out and their data is being held hostage,” explained Siciliano. “Bad guys can hold that information for ransom and get big payouts.”

Haverhill school officials believe the cyberattack potentially happened when someone opened a file containing malware.

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