Alabama Dept. of Education speaks on cyber security threats on schools

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. — Madison City Schools announced Monday there was an attempted cyber attack on its system Thursday. This is just five months after the ransomware attack on Huntsville City Schools which left students and teachers unable to use the school’s technology for weeks.

State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey says they see two to four attacks on school systems across the state every year, but generally, just like at Madison City, the attacks are averted.

Wayne Reynolds, the Alabama Dept. of Education representative for District 8, which includes Madison County, says schools systems have thousands of data points, from students and parents to teachers and staff. He says this is why schools are sometimes targeted.

“Christie Finley, superintendent of Huntsville City did a good job after they were attacked and I was at a lunch yesterday with Superintendent Dr. Nichols from Madison City and I think each system learns from the other and perhaps the attack on Huntsville City was a warning and has been a warning for other systems in Alabama,” said Reynolds.

Reynolds says it’s not just these two school systems that have the potential of being attacked. Across the country, cyber security threats are ramping up.

“The technology and the ability to do attacks progress as those thieves refine their techniques,” said Reynolds.

Luckily, these thieves don’t always get access. But if they do, Reynolds adds that it’s important for school systems, just like Madison City and Huntsville City, to let them public know.

“My grandson actually goes to one of the Madison City systems and I think it’s a prudent thing to do,” he said. “Be honest, be upright, and be forthright.”

His biggest piece of advice to parents and school systems is to simply realize the threat is real and can happen to anyone.

Because everyone is subject to cyber security threats, whether through computers or smart phones, Reynolds says it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest software to help prevent a serious attack.

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