LOS ANGELES – Classes resumed as scheduled Tuesday at the Los Angeles Unified School District following a weekend cyberattack on its information technology systems that has led to a federal investigation and instructions for teachers, staff and students to change their district passwords.
The district contacted federal officials over the weekend, prompting the White House to mobilize a response from the U.S. Department of Education, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, according to the LAUSD.
District officials described the incident as “likely criminal in nature,” and said they were assessing the situation with law enforcement agencies.
Schools opened as scheduled Tuesday despite “significant disruption to our system’s infrastructure,” according to the district.
The attack temporarily interfered with the LAUSD website and email system. But officials said employee health care and payroll were not impacted, nor did the cyber incident impact safety and emergency mechanisms in place at schools.
They added that some food or Beyond the Bell services and business operations may be delayed or modified.
On Tuesday, the district announced that all students and staff will need to change their lausd.net passwords, but it set specific times for when those changes should be made, and stressed the change “must be completed at a district site.”
To minimize wait times while the changes were being made, the district set a schedule of 7 a.m. for administrators and teachers, 9 a.m. for support staff, 10 a.m. for high school students and 11 a.m. for elementary/middle school students.
Around 9:30 a.m., LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho tweeted that roughly 53,000 passwords had been reset without any issues. But there were still tens of thousands more to go.
District officials said they immediately established a plan of action to provide protection in the future, “informed by top public and private sector technology and cyber security professionals.”
The plan includes the following actions:
— Independent Information Technology Task Force: Charged with developing a set of recommendations within 90 days, including monthly status updates;
— Additional Human Resources: Deployment of IT personnel at all sites to assist with technical issues that may arise in the coming days;
— Technology Investments: Full-scale reorganization of departments and systems to build coherence and bolster data safeguards;
— Advisory Council: Charged with providing ongoing advisement on best practices and systems, including emerging technological management protocols;
— Technology Advisor: Directed to focus on security procedures and practices, as well as conduct an overall data center operations review that includes an assessment of existing technology, critical processes and current infrastructure;
— Budget Appropriation: Directed appropriation of any necessary funding to support Information Technology Division infrastructure enhancement;
— Employee Training: Develop and implement mandatory cybersecurity responsibility training;
— Forensic Review: Expand ongoing assistance from federal and state law enforcement entities to include a forensic review of systems;
— Expert Team: Creation and deployment of an expert team to assess needs and support the implementation of immediate solutions.
LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was expected to provide more information about the attack at a press briefing late Tuesday morning at Edward R. Roybal Learning Center.