Harris Federation reports a ransomware attack that forced it to shut down its IT systems and email servers on Saturday, March 27.
The nonprofit also turned off landline phone systems, after which all phone calls were redirected to mobile phones, and students’ devices provided by the Federation.
Harris Federation is a multi-academy trust of 50 primary and secondary academies in London and Essex training thousands of teachers per year and educating more than 36,000 students.
Harris Federation called it “a highly sophisticated attack that will have a significant impact on our academies.” The non-profit said in a statement it would take time to determine the scope of the ransomware attack and the exact details of what has happened.
“A ransomware attack means that cyber-criminals have accessed our IT systems and encrypted, or hidden, their contents,” reads the statement.
Harris Federation is assisting the National Crime Agency, the National Cyber Security Centre, and experts from a cybersecurity firm in an investigation into the incident.
At least another three multi-academy trusts have been targeted in March, according to the organization.
“We are at least the fourth multi-academy trust to have been targeted in March,” Harris Federation highlighted the increasing number of UK schools targeted in similar attacks.
Harris academies are currently open, and the nonprofit organization promised it will “endeavour” to keep them open.
During the past months, increase in targeted ransomware attacks against schools in the US and UK since late February.
The attack on Harris Federation followed a March 23 warning from the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre about the increased danger of these attacks.
And two weeks ago, the FBI warned about a spike in PYSA ransomware attacks against education institutions.