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RISD suffers ‘spear phishing attempt’

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Roswell Independent School District communications were interrupted this week by a “spear phishing attempt” that caused internet and phone systems to fail, according to district officials.

On Wednesday night, RISD Superintendent Dr. Ann Lynn McIlroy emailed the Daily Record that the district had “fallen victim to a spear phishing attempt” that technicians had been addressing since Sunday morning.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, defines spear phishing attacks as attempts “to solicit personal information” through emails “posing as trustworthy organizations” or through “malicious websites.”

On the district’s Facebook page, Roswell Schools, McIlroy commented that no “evidence of compromised data for either students or employees” had been discovered as of Wednesday afternoon.

“We have thousands of desktop computers, laptops, and Chromebooks that must be checked for contamination,” McIlroy wrote. “Fortunately, our business applications are held on a separate server and were not impacted, which allows us to make payroll as scheduled.”

McIlroy said “the best case scenario” for high school students using “web-based applications …” was that students would have access through the cleared district Chromebooks by Thursday afternoon.

She said these students hadn’t had access to those applications for days.

McIlroy explained operations may not be back to normal until all the impacted devices are checked. This could take until next week, she said.

In response to requests from the community for an update, McIlroy posted on Facebook Thursday that parents could expect “a robocall” with more information.