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'There was no other choice' | Judson ISD pays more than $547,000 following ransomware attack

An alert first issued to staff stated all network, computer applications, servers, communication and e-mail systems were affected by a ransomware attack.

SAN ANTONIO — The Judson Independent School District has paid more than half a million dollars following a ransomware attack on its information technology systems.

The district released a statement to KENS 5 about the payment Wednesday morning. Judson ISD first confirmed on June 17 its system was hit by ransomware.

RELATED: Judson ISD recovering from ransomware attack, alert to district staff reveals

An alert first issued to staff stated all network, computer applications, servers, communication and e-mail systems were affected by a ransomware attack hitting the district. Officials said they didn't know when the system would be fully restored.

KENS 5 obtained the alert that was distributed, which states, in full: 

“Judson ISD technology systems were hit with Ransomware last night. All network, computer applications, servers, communication, and email systems were affected. We do not have an estimated time for recovery. Until a full estimation is complete, the district will be unable to connect to any data or technology system. 

"Please do not attempt to connect to any district system to prevent further damage. An update will be provided as soon as additional information is available.”

As of Wednesday, the district paid $547,045.61 in order to, "Protect sensitive, identifiable information from being published." The district went on to say, "While these are funds that we would have rather spent on the needs of our employees, students and their families, there was no other choice for the district to ensure your safety – our number one priority."

KENS 5 reached out to the district for more information about the incident. We asked them where the funds were pulled from. They said, "Judson ISD maintains the requisite risk management resources to keep our employees, students, and our families safe. While we are grateful that we had the funds available to secure their personal data as part of this commitment, it is unfortunate that our school district was attacked in this way."

KENS 5 also asked what this will mean for the new school year and how it will impact students. They said, "We anticipate a normal start to the school year for our students and staff as our teams have been working around the clock to make sure our school buildings are prepared and equipped with health and safety supplies." The district closed with, "This is in addition to ensuring our information technology systems are ready for students and staff can prepare for their arrival. One of our elementary schools has already started the school year as a year-round pilot school and it has been a successful start."

Read the full statement from Chief Communications Officer Nicole J Taguinod here:

All of us at Judson ISD remain committed to the successful resolution of the ransomware attack on our information technology systems. Part of this commitment includes ensuring our community receives timely, accurate and transparent information about this incident. At this time, we can now confirm that Judson ISD made a ransom payment in the amount of $547,045.61 in order to protect sensitive, identifiable information from being published. While these are funds that we would have rather spent on the needs of our employees, students and their families, there was no other choice for the district to ensure your safety – our number one priority. We understand there are still many questions about this disruption that need to be answered, and we are working around the clock while remaining focused on welcoming everyone back to schools this fall. Your patience and understanding as we complete the final steps in our investigation is greatly appreciated.  

 

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