Search

Two schools in Tunbridge Wells closed by cyber attack

Two schools in Tunbridge Wells have been hit with a vicious cyber attack, that has left them unable to open for days - alongside leaving parents bank and personal details vulnerable to cyber criminals.


Two schools have been forced to close after hackers breached their servers and took hold of vital information about pupils and staff.


The cyber attack on Skinners' Kent Academy and Skinners' Kent Primary School in Tunbridge Wells has led bosses at the academy trust to urge parents to tell their bank that personal details may have been compromised.


Action Fraud and the National Cyber Security Centre are investigating.


In a statement on the school website details of the incident - which led to the closure yesterday of both schools and the Academy today - have been revealed.


The police and the trust's own data protection company are also carrying out inquires after the attack, which began last Wednesday.


Skinners Kent Academy Trust said on its website the hackers told them what information they have access to.


It said they did not "appear" to have access to the School Information Management System, which is where personal records for pupils, students and staff are held. Although the hackers have encrypted key data relating to pupils and staff, meaning the school itself no longer has access to it.

The Trust statement reads:

"Please be assured we would not have taken this decision if there had been any other alternative.
"There are certain safeguarding documents that any school is required to have in order to be allowed to open. Unfortunately, these files we no longer have access to.
"In addition to this we need to make sure that we have access to all medical information, emergency contact details of all students and staff, which we also currently do not have access to.
"This is on top of having to rebuild all computers so that we can access resources required to teach. All of which will take a couple of days in order to be able to open safely."

Although at this stage there does not appear to be specific evidence that financial details have been obtained by the criminals, the academy trust tells parents "it would be very wise" to contact banks as a precaution.


The Trust statement adds:

"We cannot be sure exactly what the hackers have access to and what they don’t as everything has been encrypted, therefore we are changing all of the trust's passwords and would recommend that students and parents do the same."​

As staff no longer hold vital information on the pupils - including emergency contact details - the decision was taken to close the schools on Monday.


The trust is now in the process of collecting all this data from parents again, before it can reopen.


The schools must also have their computers reconfigured so staff can access the resources required to teach. The schools set up remote learning on Tuesday.


The statement on the trust's website advised parents: "It would be very wise to let your bank know that your bank details may have been taken."


A trust spokeswoman described the hackers as "sophisticated".


She added: "The trust is working incredibly hard to ensure that our students and pupils are back in our schools.....as soon as it is possible to do so."


Reporting

Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to report@phishing.gov.uk. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).


The contents of blog posts on this website are provided for general information only and are not intended to replace specific professional advice relevant to your situation. The intention of East Midlands Cyber Resilience Centre (EMCRC) is to encourage cyber resilience by raising issues and disseminating information on the experiences and initiatives of others. Articles on the website cannot by their nature be comprehensive and may not reflect most recent legislation, practice, or application to your circumstances. EMCRC provides affordable services and Trusted Partners if you need specific support. For specific questions please contact us by email.

 

EMCRC does not accept any responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on information or materials published on this blog. EMCRC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites that link to this site or which are linked from it.