by Sam Hieb
School resumes today under the cloud of an email virus that completely shut down the computer network and internet structure at Rockingham County Schools:
According to Chief Technology Officer Kacey Sensenich, the district was hit with the effects of an Emotet malware program – a Trojan that obtains financial information by injecting computer code into the networking stack of an infected computer. The malware then inserts itself into software modules which are then able to steal address book data and perform denial of service attacks on other systems.
The Emotet entered the schools computer systems on Dec. 11 through a phishing email that was opened and a Word attachment entitled “INCORRECT INVOICE” was downloaded on several different machines.
Three days later, the school’s administrative office began reporting that several machines lacked connectivity to the school’s network. The next day user email accounts were compromised and several Google accounts were shut down at Western Rockingham Middle School and Bethany Elementary due to excessive spamming.
The RCS school board voted Dec. 27 to use appropriate $314,000 to contract with an Atlanta-based technology company to (hopefully) fix the issue, while Superintendent Rodney Shotwell estimates that re-equipping classrooms with Chromebooks could cost an additional $834,000.