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News from 2021-2022

Posted: January 19, 2022

APS Resolves Ransomware Attack

The district continues to work with law enforcement and cybersecurity experts to investigate the attack that shut down schools for two days.

Albuquerque Public Schools employees representing Information Technology,  Student Information Systems, and other departments worked around the clock alongside third-party experts to restore systems disabled by a mid-January ransomware attack. Because systems used for such safety tasks as taking attendance, contacting families in emergencies, and assuring that students are picked up from school by authorized adults were compromised, all APS schools were closed for two days, on Jan. 13-14.

APS came up with a workaround that allowed schools to open on Tuesday, Jan. 18, following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. By that afternoon, the student information system was back online, and all but a few days of data was restored.

Students will need to make up the missed "cybersecurity snow days" at the end of the school year. 

Due to the ongoing investigation, APS cannot disclose the timeline of events, all systems involved, specifics about the ransomware attack, or detailed next steps. However, in a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 18, Superintendent Scott Elder and Chief Information Officer Richard Bowman assured that preventative measures are being taken to protect staff, student, and family information.

"It should be very clear to everyone that someone intentionally, aggressively, and very publicly tried to harm our school community," Supt. Elder said. "We have to assume that entity is still watching our every move. As good stewards of your taxpayer dollars, we can't divulge information that escalates or prolongs our current circumstances or the investigation."

In a video earlier in the month, Supt. Elder pointed out that schools everywhere are vulnerable, noting that by some account, school cyberattacks nationwide have increased nearly fivefold since 2016. 

Supt. Elder said that because this is an issue that impacts large and small school districts across the nation, he would like to see the creation of a state and federal task force that can look at providing resources to protect systems and information in the future.