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Superintendent's News

Posted: January 13, 2022

Cyberattack Closes Schools: A Message from Supt. Elder

In a video to families and employees, Superintendent Scott Elder addresses the cyberattack that shut down APS schools.

Albuquerque Public Schools was forced to close schools for two days due to a cyberattack that compromised the student information system used to take attendance, contact families in emergencies, and assure that students are picked up from school by authorized adults. Schools are expected to re-open on Tuesday, Jan. 18.

APS Superintendent Scott Elder addressed the situation in a video.

 

Transcript

Hello. I'm Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent Scott Elder.

If it seems I've come into your homes a lot in the past couple of years to share difficult news, you're right. And here I am again.

I am very hopeful that better days are ahead, but the journey isn't over, and we find ourselves facing yet another challenge. I appreciate your frustration and understand that the problems we've faced together have come at a cost to us all.

By now, you know APS has suffered a serious incident that forced us, for the first time ever, to cancel school for two days for what the experts refer to as 'cyber snow days."

The cyberattack compromised the student information system used to take attendance, contact families in emergencies, and assure that students are picked up from school by authorized adults. The possible impact to student safety forced us to close schools.

Cyber experts and law enforcement from near and far have graciously offered help in what is becoming a growing challenge for school districts across the nation. Schools can be easy targets for hackers looking to disrupt the learning process or worse. By some accounts, school cyberattacks nationwide have increased nearly fivefold since 2016.

Schools everywhere became even more vulnerable with virtual learning as that model creates more access points for potential intrusions. 

These attacks often originate outside of  the United States and are frequently promoted on the "dark web."

The sophisticated hackers behind the chaos often target public schools because they know we can't afford the same in-house cybersecurity expertise found in the private sector.

All of our efforts are now focused on returning students to class as soon as possible. We are working to identify the problem, determine the extent of exposure, put fixes in place, reinforce safety protocols, and increase our level of monitoring to prevent future attacks.

Time is of the essence as this is an active and developing cyber threat. No additional information is available right now to ensure the investigation's integrity is not compromised.

I've heard the social media conspiracy talk that the cyber threat was created to allow the district time to deal with the surge in COVID cases. I assure you that isn't the case. We really have been hit simultaneously by two crippling crises.

Things will get better, and we will share what we can as possible. 

Thank you.