No Indication So Far That Cyberattack Of Sag Harbor School District Compromised Personal Information

Sag Harbor Elementary School. Christine Sampson photo

Since the Sag Harbor School District was hit by a cyberattack on November 4, the district’s instructional technology team has been working with an outside security consulting group to restore district systems.

Scott Fisher, director of technology, told School Board members on Monday that information they sent out to parents is all the district has to share with the public at this point.

“It’s unfortunately very time-consuming, and everybody has been extremely understanding and willing to take the proper amount of time to make sure we address this properly,” Mr. Fisher said.

So far, there is no evidence of data loss or any data extraction, including information about students and their families or district employees, he said. The district should have a final confirmation of this within the next two weeks, Mr. Fisher said.

Over the years the vast majority of confidential student and employee data has been moved to off-site platforms that have their own highly regulated secure, cloud-based systems, and there is no evidence that any data stored in cloud-based systems was compromised, Mr. Fisher said.

“Do we have any sense of who or how?” board member Diana Kolhoff asked.
Mr. Fisher said the district does not yet have the answers, but that the security company, Core BTS, is in the process of trying to find them.

Over the last five years, the district has been taking part in cybersecurity training and simulations, and developing partnerships with Core BTS and the New York State Office on Information Technology’s cyber-incident reporting team, to protect the district from cyberattacks. In 2016, the district also followed Mr. Fisher’s recommendation to purchase insurance to cover most of the costs of recovering from cybersecurity incidents.

The district’s technology team and Core BTS continue to work with school administration to help restore full functionality to all of the district’s technology systems. The teachers have been able to connect to their gradebooks and the business and nurses’ offices are able to connect to essential records and platforms. Students’ Chromebooks are coming online as Wi-Fi connections are restored. Email communication between school and home may be delayed, as Wi-Fi is not available for use on all district computers yet while the technology team continues to test the networks.

Mr. Fisher said that the visitor security checkout systems are back online.
“I don’t have a definitive date where I can tell you when everything will be 100 percent and back online, he said. “I can tell you, we are making continual progress. We’re steadily coming back online.”

District officials said they encouraged families to contact the main office of the school their child attends with any questions or concerns.