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OCM BOCES sees two cyberattacks in one week

WSYR-TV - Another cyber-attack directed at the Central New York Regional Information Center has disrupted the network, causing huge problems for school districts across Central New York.

OCM BOCES says staff have been working around the clock to address the issue and they’re trying to solve it as efficiently as possible.

OCM BOCES tells NewsChannel 9 that no confidential or personal information was breached. 

"I think what they mean by saying no breach has occurred is that no personal identifying information or other sensitive information has been you know, taken, stolen, or pushed out from the inside out," said Shiu-Kai Chin, Professor of Electrical Engineering for Syracuse University.

Chin studies attacks like this one. In this case, he believes it's likely a denial of security attack. He said to think of it like a busy phone line.

"What that means is one or more sources on the internet are sending requests to kind of tie up the lines," Chin said.

These attacks are common, Chin said, and are not easily avoided.

"It's pretty hard to prevent--now what you end up doing sometimes is if it's a single source, you can block the source," Chin said.

Back in April, another cyber attack against the Regional Information Center occurred. It delayed state-mandated electronic English Language Arts tests for thousands of students.

Read the letter OCM BOCES sent out below: 

To all School Leaders, Educators, Parents and Students:

For the second time in one week, a cyberattack directed at our Central New York Regional Information Center (CNYRIC) disrupted the network today and created a huge inconvenience for all of you in our districts and at OCM BOCES. First and foremost, I want to extend my deepest apologies for this inconvenience and offer the latest updates on how this problem is being addressed. Please know that our staff at the CNYRIC has been working non-stop and around-the-clock to address this problem. They are committed to solving this issue as quickly and effectively as possible. All of us at OCM BOCES understand that a secure, reliable network is critical to nearly every operation within a school district, which means it is essential to the education of our students. Right now, our top priority is to make sure we can provide that reliable network for you.

Despite the inconvenience of these disruptions, I want you to remind you that all confidential and personal information related to our students and employees has been well-protected. None of these cyberattacks has resulted in a breach of confidential information. They did not penetrate our internal network, which ensured the integrity of the information. While the disruptions are frustrating and difficult to deal with, they are essentially doing their job to protect what is most important — personal information.

We are not alone. These cyberattacks not only represent targeted attacks against our local school districts, they are also affecting several Regional Information Centers (RICs) across the state. Needless to say, we have been working closely with other RICs to share information, help each other minimize disruptions and hone in on the best solutions.

Because this problem has extended far beyond OCM BOCES, I have reached out to a variety of lawmakers and law enforcement to see if they can be of assistance. I spoke recently with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s staff to brief him about the problem. We have also notified and shared information with the FBI.

As you may already know, we have been working diligently to institute a large-scale and long-term solution with a third-party vendor that specializes in identifying and preventing cyberattacks. That effort will involve a two-fold solution, utilizing both cloud-based and hardware strategies.

Finally, I am deeply apologetic for this ongoing problem and continue to appreciate your patience as we devote all of our time, attention and resources to resolving it. The protection of our student and employee information has always been our top priority.

Please share this update with others and reach out to me with any questions or concerns. I will continue to keep you up-to-date on our progress.

Jody Manning, Ed.D.

District Superintentent & CEO, OCM BOCES


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