Regina Public Schools systems mostly back online after cyber attack

Most of Regina Public School’s online systems are back up and running nearly a month after the division fell victim to a cyber attack that forced it to shut everything down.

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Most of Regina Public School’s online systems are back up and running nearly a month after the division fell victim to a cyber attack that forced it to shut everything down.

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“We are confident the school year will end as expected with minor inconvenience to parents and staff and students,” Terry Lazarou, spokesperson for RPS, said Monday.

RPS took all of its internet-based systems offline after “suspicious activity” was detected the weekend of May 21. Email and other online portals used by teachers and administrators have remained unusable since then. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

A tweet from the division posted on May 24 said it was confident day-to-day operations would remain unaffected. A couple days later, RPS confirmed that the incident was the result of a network-wide cyber attack.

“Telephones are working, that’s about it for the most part,” Lazarou said at the time.

When asked how disruptive the past month has truly been for teachers, Lazarou said Monday that “it was an inconvenience for some time for staff as services and applications that they were used to were not available for an amount of time.”

“We’re pretty confident that most of those have returned and we are really grateful to our staff and to our families who put up with some of these inconveniences,” he added.

He said Edsby, an online communication platform used by teachers, students and parents, has been usable for some time since it’s owned and operated by a third party company that was unaffected by the cyber attack. Access was only initially down when everything was shut down, but was quickly restored.

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Lazarou said people have been understanding and patient and that the division has been in “constant communication” with staff throughout the entire process. A list of what services remain offline could not be provided and results of the investigation, like who is responsible for the attack, are not available yet.

“We’re still working through that process, so once we have details we may be sharing that but that won’t be for awhile,” Lazarou said.

One of the key findings in a report recently released by provincial auditor Tara Clemett noted improved monitoring of IT service providers is needed across school divisions.

“Thirteen school divisions across the province use a key financial IT system with identified system vulnerabilities, exposing them to increased cybersecurity risks,” the report said.

Audits found system has outdated software and is used by almost half of the province’s school divisions, it does not specific which ones. Clemett recommended the Ministry of Education work with impacted divisions to establish a process to monitor system and the service provider.

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