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San Diego Unified Targeted By Cyber Hackers

NBC San Diego 12/3/2022 Christina Bravo
Cyber security and cyber attack concept background color image © Getty Images

Cyber security and cyber attack concept background color image

The San Diego Unified School District was the latest victim of a cybersecurity breach, according to a letter sent to parents on Thursday.

SDUSD released very few details about the actual incident, but said they took steps to "secure our network, to launch an investigation, and to prevent any disruptions to IT operations." The district added, "critical systems" were still operational and there was no impact on their safety and emergency mechanisms at any schools or offices.

"We want our students and the San Diego Unified community to know that we place a high value on maintaining the integrity and security of the data we hold in our systems, and we are working diligently to complete our investigation of the incident," it said in the letter signed by Superintendent Dr. Lamont Jackson.

In response to the breach, officials also directed staff to change their passwords and were working to change the passwords for all student accounts, which would happen over several days, the district said.

Law enforcement officials have also been called in to assist with an investigation, as has a team of cybersecurity experts, the district said.

While SDUSD has not confirmed the severity of the breach, federal agencies have warned criminal ransomware groups have targeted U.S. school districts in recent months with extortion demands and predicted the trend would continue throughout the school year.

“School districts with limited cybersecurity capabilities and constrained resources are often the most vulnerable; however, the opportunistic targeting often seen with cyber criminals can still put school districts with robust cybersecurity programs at risk,” the group added.

The Los Angeles Unified School District was the target of an attack in September. The district said a hacker infected their computer networks with malicious software, locking up files and demanding a ransom payment. Thousands of files were stolen and then leaked on the dark web.

Cybersecurity attacks have also affected healthcare systems, including the local UC San Diego Health and San Ysidro Health systems.

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