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Port Neches-Groves ISD computers attacked by ransomware, systems shut down

Superintendent Dr. Mike Gonzales said employees were unable to clock in on Tuesday, leading to the discovery of the attack.

PORT NECHES, Texas — Systems are down for Port Neches-Groves ISD after district computers were attacked by ransomware.

PN-G ISD Superintendent Mike Gonzales told 12News attackers worked their way into the district's computers through email.

They have a cyber security forensic team working on it, and the hope is to have the issue resolved in the next couple days.

Gonzales said employees were unable to clock in on Tuesday, leading to the discovery of the attack. 

The school's technology team realized it was a cyber attack. 

Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services Julie Gauthier said at this point, the district isn't worried about personal information of students and staff being taken. 

She emphasized the importance of understanding the difference between a breach and an attack. 

Gauthier said this attack is more of a 'business deal,' and district files have been taken over in an attempt to shut the district down and get money.  

The district has contacted Port Neches PD, FBI, Attorney General’s Office, and the Texas Education Agency.

Gonzales said the amount asked for by the attackers can't be released because of the investigation. 

RELATED: Wilmer among Texas cities targeted in ransomware attack

He said the district has insurance that covers costs related to this type of attack.

12News spoke with Charles Teel, the owner of cyber security service called SR2 Solutions.

"Ransomware is becoming increasingly common all across the globe, all across the cyber security industry," said Teel.

He tells us this type of attack can result in social security numbers, home addresses and phone numbers being leaked.

Yet, he says the probability of information being taken is low.

"Those are some of the risks that can happen with ransomware," said Teel. "The main and most immediate impact is going to be the lack of access to your information."

Teel says there are ways to prevent ransomware, including being able to recognize false links and backing information up.

He adds ransomware can strike anytime withing any organization. 

"Anyone that uses some kind of information technology in their day-to-day business, in can hit them," said Teel. "So, people need to be aware of this and take appropriate steps to prevent."

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