Rockwood amps up security following June’s malware attack


Vijay Viswanathan

Cyber security has become an important topic following the malware attack on the Rockwood School District over the summer. During the attack, students were unable to use their Infinite Campus and were asked to change their passwords. Staff and students whose information was compromised were informed via mail.

Hannah Fitts

October was recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month by the National Cyber Security Alliance and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003. The attention to Cyber security serves as a broad effort to help all Americans stay safer and more secure online.

On behalf of Cyber Security Month, Rockwood Technology wants to ensure employees have the resources and information to stay safe and secure when navigating on our district network. 

In June 2021, there were numerous internet issues that had been occurring throughout The Rockwood School District (RSD). An email was sent out that explained the RSD had launched an investigation within the internal computer system and found that the issues were a result of a malware attack

After completely shutting down and rebuilding the RSD website, the RSD Technology Department has reevaluated its approach when it comes to online actions. 

 Deborah Ketring, Chief Information Officer for the RSD, said that each Monday of October the district focused on the importance of taking proactive steps to better the online Rockwood community and teach students and staff how to avoid phishing scams. 

“We have tightened our content and spam filtering rules in Google which has helped eliminate phishing scares but also created some unintentional blockage of emails from legitimate sources like parents or vendors,” Ketring said. “We felt that even with this, it is a risk worth taking.”

One of the practices that have been effective in keeping staff safe is keeping them up to date with breaches. As soon as the Technology Department has information on an attempted breach, teachers that are targeted will be immediately informed.

On a weekly basis, the Communications office also sends out information based on cyber security principles and best practices. This includes being aware of what phishing looks like to what kind of attacks Rockwood experiences. 

“Our main objective is to give folks simple tips not only to use while using the district network but also to use throughout their day-to-day lives,” Robert Deneau, Director of Technology Support Services, said.

In the updates sent to teachers and other staff, tips on how to be cyber smart include making sure devices are fully updated, limiting what information is posted on social media, reporting suspicious or crude activity and only connecting with trusted individuals. 

“The first thing that we ask and encourage everybody to do if you are suspicious of anything is call the help desk. If it’s after hours, send an email. We are interested and we want to know the things people are seeing and sometimes it is a legitimate message, but those times when it’s not, we take immediate action to block that, whether it’s to block the email address or block the website so others no longer have access to it,” Ketring said. 

The advice sent out about cyber safety is another way the district has attempted to readjust the district’s approach following the malware attack.

“The security insistence we had this summer is a perfect example of why we need to use the strategies we are promoting. It’s made people realize why we keep insisting that they need to learn these skills because they are important,” Deneau said. 

Ketring believes everyone should remain cautious and aware of their information on the Internet.

“I think everyone should be concerned. I have full respect for that because I am concerned about the safety of our students’ and employees’ data on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this is becoming an all too frequent occurrence,” Ketring said.