Investigation into cyber attack on School District 67 determines some info may be at risk

Fallout from cyber attack

More information has come out following the outage of phone and email services at School District 67 due to a cyber attack last week.

SD67 issued letters to all employees on Monday and all parents/students on Tuesday. Superintendent Todd Manuel also issued a letter on Wednesday addressing the incident.

On February 13, the district said they detected some unusual activity in our information systems. An unauthorized entity gained access to certain school district technology systems.

"As soon as the intrusion was detected, the school district took steps to contain the incident and engaged cybersecurity experts to assist with the response and investigation," Manuel said in his letter.

The incident also impacted the Penticton Seniors' Drop In Centre, which used the same network as SD67 to operate their communications, knocking out their ability to share news with their members too. They remained open, despite the phone and email interruption.

In the course of the initial investigation, the district said it has been determined that certain information belonging to staff, students and parents may have been subject to risk as a result of the incident.

"We can now confirm that an unknown third party was able to gain access to school district systems. We have not yet been able to confirm whether any school district files were accessed or taken, and so far we have no evidence that the personal information of parents or students is being misused," Nicole Bittante, the district secretary-treasurer said in the letter to parents.

"However, we have determined that some information belonging to parents and students may be at risk."

SD67 is urging parents and students to take precautions to protect themselves as their investigation continues and they work on returning to full operations.

These precaution recommendations include:

  • Not responding to unusual emails or text messages from the school district unless you are certain they are authentic
  • Not responding to unsolicited requests for personal or financial information
  • Monitoring financial and other accounts for any unusual activity
  • Changing your password to any personal accounts accessed from our systems.

A webpage has been established on the SD67 website to provide updated information and links to resources, which can be found online here.

"Please be assured that we take our role in safeguarding your personal information seriously. We are doing everything we can to rectify this situation and have engaged support from cyber security experts to support our investigation and the restoration of our systems. This matter has also been reported to law enforcement and to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner," Bittante added.

While some of their network services continue to be offline, the district said they are continuing to make efforts to restore these systems as soon as we can do so safely and securely.

Seniors' Drop In Centre general manager Erin Moore said on Thursday that they have determined there was no breach on their end.

"We're not actually connected to their server and their centralized data," she added. "So other than being inconvenienced, we haven't had any issues or security breaches whatsoever of any of our information."

Moore said the centre has now switched off of SD67's network, which had already been in the works, but was sped up after the incident.

"So we're up and running somewhat with internet to another provider. But our phone lines, unfortunately, we are still connected to the school board," she said, adding that they've been informed by IT services that it may be weeks before those are fixed.

"At this time, just be patient with our phone system. I know that a lot of seniors do prefer to use the phone versus email. However, we don't have an estimated time that that will be up and running. We are working on it and working with other providers to get our phones up and going."

Apart from the phone lines being down, the centre is operating business as usual.

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