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New Zealand school on naughty step after ransomware failure

Fortinet to lock the stable door, horse heads for horizon

A Kiwi high school has learned the “don't click on the link” lesson the hard way, with a ransomware attack locking down its student's course work.

The Hāwera High School is being asked for US$5,000 to unlock the ransomed files. According to New Zealand's Taranaki Daily News, the attack didn't affect staff or student records, and the school has disconnected its network while it works out what to do.

Because the school was in the process of migrating storage to the cloud, the attacker didn't lock out everything, principal Rachel Williams told Radio New Zealand. She added that the school is conducting a full audit to work out what's been lost.

The worst hit, she said, will be students in photography and some technology subjects, who were more likely to be storing their work locally.

The government's school Internet provider N4L had already decided better protection is needed at a national level, and has announced security enhancements as part of an upgrade to be completed by October 2019.

Fortinet has landed the job of providing firewalls and content filtering for the upgrade, with N4L taking on administration of the kit as a managed service. The upgrade will cover all 2,450 schools and 800,000 students in New Zealand.

New Zealand's Fairfax outlet Stuff reported that, as well as the country's education ministry, the school is getting help from the New Zealand Qualifications Authority in auditing what's been lost. ®

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