15 schools in Nottinghamshire crippled by cyber attack

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Schools across Nottinghamshire have had to shut down their IT networks after a central trust that manages their systems was hit by a cyber attack.

All 15 secondary schools that are part of the Nova Education Trust are currently unable to access emails or their websites, and are still unable to conduct lessons remotely.

The trust has alerted the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which is currently working with its central IT team to resolve the matter. The incident has also been reported to the Department of Education (DfE) and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

The attack was first discovered on Wednesday morning, prompting the trust to shutdown every one of its systems as a precaution. It added that its central IT team is still investigating the potential impact of the attack

Each school associated with the trust has also been advised to shut their systems down while the investigation is on-going. Most of the affect schools have already posted social media messages warning students not to use some of its services.

Toot Hill School, in Bingham, said that "cyber experts" recommended that pupils should not access material that they had previously received from school via email, Dojo, Tapestry, Microsoft Teams, or any other official channel, as the school was unable to guarantee that those documents were safe to open.

Similarly, the Nottingham Free School, in Sherwood, said that it was unable to provide live teaching lessons and recommended its pupils use online resources such as BBC Bitesize and GCSE Pod.

"At this time, the trust and its schools have no access to standard methods of communication such as telephones or email whilst investigations are ongoing," a Nova spokesperson told Nottingham Live. "All schools websites will also be offline until further notice. Therefore, the schools will be unable to provide remote teaching today or upload new learning resources to their students."

The method of attack and the culprits are as yet unknown, but the incident shares lots of similarities with a spate of ransomware attacks that disrupted schools, colleges and universities in 2020.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

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