Cybersecurity Incident Under Investigation in Berkeley County Schools — 19,000 Students Have Day Off

MARTINSBURG, W.Va.  —  More than 19,000 students got the day out of school in Berkeley County on Monday (February 06), but it was a workday for staff.  This after a cybersecurity incident in the district Friday.    Berkeley County Schools sent out a message saying they are  investigating the “cause and scope.”

Berkeley County Schools experienced a network outage on Friday that limited IT operations throughout the district. BCS Schools stated that their team worked quickly to notify law enforcement agencies and began an investigation to determine the cause and scope of the incident. “This is an active and collaborative investigation involving cybersecurity professionals,” according to an announcement that went out to families.

“We want our students and the 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 restore operations.”

A note from Superintendent Ron Stephens on Friday addressed what will happen if student information was compromised, “If it is determined that there was unauthorized access to sensitive personal information, we will notify individuals in accordance with applicable laws,” the letter said.

Friday’s outage affected phones and internet across the district and made apps like one that allows parents to see their child’s bus service in real time unreliable.

Parents reacting to the announcement voiced concerns about sensitive information from a child’s emergency card, which is now uploaded online, or child protective orders, which they say could be compromised.

Students have the day off, although James Rumsey Technical Institute in Hedgesville, which serves students in all three counties in the Eastern Panhandle, is open. “As we serve students from Jefferson and Morgan counties, as well as adult students JRTI is OPEN on Monday, February 6.  We will continue to work with all students during these transitions and encourage students to remain in contact with their instructors.” Students from Berkeley County can be dropped off by parents, but there is no penalty for those students not coming to class at Rumsey.”

On Friday, Superintendent Ron Stephens issued the following statement:

“BCS Community:
As you know, Berkeley County Schools has been responding to a security incident that has limited access to computer resources throughout the district. Since that time, we have been working diligently to restore operations and furthering our investigation of the incident. As part of our commitment to provide updates, please review the following information.

Can students and staff continue to use BCS issued Chromebooks off the BCS network?
Yes, we have no evidence that this incident involves any student Chromebooks.

Are student interim reports available?
Interims are available using Schoology if you are using the platform.

When will our systems be back up and running?
We remain dedicated to providing quality educational services to our students. It is our goal to restore our network to operational status, but until the full scope of the incident is known, we will remain offline.

Was any student data compromised as part of this incident?
Answering this question is a key objective of our investigation. If it is determined that there was unauthorized access to sensitive personal information, we will notify individuals in accordance with applicable laws. Again, at this time, our investigation into the full scope of this incident is ongoing.

What would Berkeley County Schools offer to impacted individuals?
We do not know if any personal data has been breached at this time. When the investigation is complete, we will notify individuals in accordance with applicable law and provide resources to help protect against the possible misuse of their information if applicable. Reminder, our investigation into the scope of the data that may have been impacted is ongoing.”

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