Ransomware Attack on Baltimore Schools


Jacob Peterson

Ransomware attack on a user’s computer.

Jacob Peterson, Editor

Ransomware attack on Baltimore schools occurred on Monday, November 30, 2020. Ransomware attacks occur when someone sends a virus to another computer. Then the virus goes into the computer and stops the computer user from being able to use it until they pay money to get the files back.  If they do not pay, then the virus will delete the files  or cause damage to the computer.


 The Baltimore schools were closed for two days while authorities could figure out if the student data and personnel files were compromised. Oakdale High School computer science teacher, Brian Ranallo said he believes that officials will conduct a complete audit of the school’s network infrastructure. 


Oakdale High Schools’ technician, Lawrence Turner, agreed with Ranallo’s estimate of time needed for schools to recover from a cyber attack. Turner said, “While any breach of information is time consuming, it can take anywhere from hours to years to recover. Think of time as money. The longer to recover, the more the taxpayer burden will be.”


Turner believes the schools in Baltimore County will need to put measures in place to screen incoming connections from outside the school system. Turner said,“ I hope to isolate any bad actors and hold them accountable.” 


Ranallo believes that all Baltimore officials and agencies need to consider their current cyber security policies and conditions since this is the second cyber attack in the last two years. The last cyber attack that happened in Baltimore was one that caused a lot of damage because a virus called RobinHood got into the some government buildings system and caused all sorts of problems for Baltimore. 


According to Ranallo, in the event of a cyber attack, students can still use their chrome books. The virus only locks the windows computers that students or teachers are using. All chrome books and mac products were not affected. An incident like this has created more awareness of the school system’s vulnerabilities so that administrators can make the necessary cyber security fixes to deter or prevent future attacks. 


Turner said that more focus on security against cyber attacks are needed in schools and gave the following example: “Remember that disruption equals time, and time equals money. Think of a paper you are working on, you are almost finished and a virus infects your computer and deletes the file. Now you are faced with a complete do over. If you had taken the time to update your antivirus software with the latest virus definitions, chances are the attack would have been transparent and you would still have your paper and turned it in on time.” 


In regard to the recent ransomware attack on Baltimore schools, Turner also said, “This is a wakeup call. The threat is real. Security baselines must be established and adhered to. Once a secure environment is identified, it is equally important that it is able to grow and evolve with the ever growing cyber security threats that will continue to knock at your door.”



Information about the Baltimore schools https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-co-what-to-know-schools-ransomware-attack-20201130-2j3ws6yffzcrrkfzzf3m43zxma-story.html

Information about the ransomware attack at the Baltimore county school system: