Intentional or Accidental? Someone walked in cyberattack at Tyngsborough school

TYNGSBOROUGH, Mass. — Back in school remotely for many schools means back in the fight against hackers. Most of the time they’re remote, but the Tyngsborough school district says it had a hack from someone in person and possibly intentional.

It’s not going to be easy for the school to track down the culprit because schools are more prepared for someone sitting at a computer in another state or country trying to get through a firewall, but in this case, the school believes someone brought a device from home, causing internet outages all week.

Since it’s been a little tough to learn in Tyngsborough this week, so the school sent the kids home Friday.

“Today is the first day we were home,” said Tyngsborough Middle School eighth grader Katie Guilmette. “We were in school but it was all glitchy online.”

Tyngsborough Public Schools says someone has been intentionally or accidentally bringing a device into the building each morning that has now disrupted the school year they worked so hard to make happen during a pandemic.

“It’s frustrating in the sense of parents who need to adjust their work schedules and be at home with children who cannot be supervised,” said Tyngsborough parent Andrea Shortsianitis.

“We are frustrated and disappointed that this outage has disrupted what has been a very successful and positive start to our school year here in Tyngsborough,” Schools Superintendent Michael Flanagan said. “We have all pulled together and worked so hard to create a positive learning environment in spite of the challenges and disruptions of the COVID pandemic. While we are confident that we will soon rectify this situation, I am upset for the difficulty and disruption this has caused our students, families, and staff.”

“I would hope it’s not a student but whoever it is it’s sad and I hope we find out how it happened so we can prevent it from happening in the future,” said Shortsianitis.

“It’s easy to protect if it’s done remotely from far away or from outside the network but if it’s from an inside job as it sounds, it’s very difficult to protect from,” said Robert Siciliano, CEO of ProtectNow in Boston. “Really security cameras may be the best way to find out who did it may prevent it next time.”

Siciliano says nobody’s identity or personal information is compromised, but the culprit did overwhelm the network.

“It seems like someone was having a lot of fun with this and it is more than likely that the suspect will probably get caught because it’s not too difficult to trace the origins of the virus like that,” said Siciliano.

The school is working with police and a technology company to fix the issue and hopefully be back in school by Tuesday which will be a welcome sign for most students.

“They’re kind of excited that there’s no school but then again they are annoyed because now we don’t learn,” said Guilmette.

The breach only affected the high school and middle school students.

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