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New Kent County Public Schools victim of ransomware attack

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NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. -- New Kent County Public Schools were recently the victims of a ransomware cyber-attack, Superintendent Brian J. Nichols announced Tuesday.

In a letter to the school community, Nichols explained that the cyber-attack means that the files located on their internal hard drive have been encrypted and the school system is unable to access their files without paying a ransom.

“Simply said, we cannot access many of the documents and data the faculty and staff have created, and this will cause an undue burden as we work to start school on time and ready for our students to learn,” Nichols wrote.

Ransomware is a type of virus that encrypts a computer's files, demanding a payment -- usually in the digital currency Bitcoin -- to be unlocked. It's often written and deployed by individual criminal gangs for profit, though the US has formally accused intelligence officers in North Korea and Russia, respectively, of crafting the two most dangerous strains ever seen.

The superintendent says the school system has hired cybersecurity experts and a technical team to both investigate the incident and bring them back online as soon as possible.

“We have also notified the FBI and are working with federal law enforcement,” Nichols wrote. “At this time, we do not believe any personal identifying information was taken by the cybercriminals.”

In the meantime, Nichols says New Kent schools will open on time and open house events will continue as scheduled.

“We will make sure our students are scheduled for their classes the first day of school,” said Nichols.

CNN Wire contributed to this article.  

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