Virus quickly eliminated IT department

On Labor Day, GHS was sent back to the 1980s.

Two weeks ago, Greenwood School District’s network was shut down due to malware. To combat this, the IT Department thoroughly cleaned the entire system.

“We had to scan every computer that didn’t have Deep Freeze. I had to scan every computer in this entire district,” Mr. Tracy Nelson, district technical specialist, said.

The Woodmen AM podcast team interviewed Principal Todd Garrison about the virus and effect of the malware on GHS. Click on the logo to hear that podcast.

Deep Freeze is a security program that protects the computers’ data from viruses. Computers that did not have this feature had to be cleaned individually.

“The scan takes two to four hours,” Mr. Nelson said. “It’s an ongoing process. It takes forever to scan.”

Luckily, the district had protection to combat the virus, and no data was leaked. This allowed the network to be brought back online quickly. In fact, the newly-hired district technology, Ms. Jenna Cooper, was supposed to start work on Sept. 12. Instead, she assisted in tackling the virus more than a week before her first day on the job.

“The great news about the situation is that we had appropriate backup that kept our data secure,” Superintendent Kent Dekoninck said, “and that allowed us to get back online in a matter of two and a half days.”

Computers without proper virus protection that were connected to the school network in the last couple of weeks may be susceptible to the virus, but the school is providing a scan for students concerned about their individual devices.
“Any time during this school year they’ve used it they can have it scanned,” Mr. Nelson said.

The Technology Department is using this situation to learn more about protections.

“Just like with anything, you learn, and even particularly with data security, you always have to know that it’s a never ending battle,” Dr. Dekoninck said. “Every day there’s something new that’s coming out there, and then as you go through this, you also realize that other places get breached as well.”

Some parts of the school were safe from the virus, such as the school’s security system.

“As a police department, we are on totally separate networks, so it didn’t affect us at all security-wise because the doors still maintain their security,” Officer Randy Eck said.

The bell systems were down, but that was not due to the virus. The power supply housed within that office computer shorted out, which had nothing to do with the malware. The timing was simply a coincidence. And, the air conditioning issues this week were not connected as well. However, several parts of the school were out of order due to the malware.

“Parents would call in and need to pick up their students for doctors appointments, and at that time, we had no way of looking up where the students were at,” Mrs. Shelly Goodrich, administrative assistant, said.

The staff worked to manage processing without computers.

“What we had done in the past is that we had put the students’ schedules on our desktop if PowerSchool was not working, but we really didn’t have paper copies of the schedules in the event we had no computers at all,” Mrs. Goodrich said.

Many students and teachers were unable to keep up with daily tasks.

“Nobody could do anything,” Mrs. Maria Gregory, credit recovery supervisor, said. “I asked kids if they had homework for other classes, and then they could just do whatever if they didn’t have anything to do.”

The virus even affected the media center.

“We were still able to check out books,” Mrs. Julia Reynolds, media specialist, said, “but the records weren’t in the computer so we had to hand write everything. Once the virus was gone, we had to take all that information and put it in. It made it a little more difficult than what we’re used to. It was more of an annoyance than anything.”

With the introduction of a new director, there were plans to reassess the computer systems before the virus hit, though.

“I had already charged our new technology director with a number of items,” Dr. Dekoninck said. “One being the analysis of our technology structure and our technology policies.”

 

 

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