Francis Howell Schools, Missouri, Offline Following Cyber Attack

Cyber Attack

Francis Howell schools in Missouri faced a cyber attack that disrupted their computer systems, prompting Superintendent Kenneth Roumpos to inform the district's community. The incident led to unexpected network problems, compelling all schools to transition to remote learning on Tuesday and Wednesday. Malware was utilized to encrypt certain systems, necessitating notification of law enforcement agencies.

Students were slated to return to school on Thursday without internet access for the remainder of the week. Federal law enforcement and third-party specialists were enlisted to investigate the attack's source and assess its impact. However, the FBI's St. Louis office declined to confirm any ongoing investigation.

District staff undertook safety checks on key systems, including building intercoms, fire alarms, and HVAC systems. Despite the internet outage, the district assured the implementation of security measures to safeguard school premises.

The cyber attack on Francis Howell adds to a string of similar incidents affecting St. Louis-area school districts. In 2021, malware disrupted the Rockwood School District, leading to data privacy concerns. Additionally, last June, a Russian ransomware group known as "CLoP" claimed responsibility for hacking the University of Missouri as part of a global cyber attack.

The series of cyber attacks underscores the vulnerability of educational institutions to malicious online activities. Francis Howell's response reflects the growing concern for cybersecurity in schools and the imperative to fortify digital infrastructure against such threats.