PENDLETON – The computer system for South Madison Community Schools was infected with a virus over the weekend.

Superintendent Joe Buck said Monday that the school system had not been asked to pay a ransom. The school system is not aware of personal information for any student or staff member being compromised, Buck said.

“Over the weekend, the South Madison Community School Corporation networks were infected with a computer virus that affected the majority of our servers,” Buck said. “Backup files are being used to restore many of the servers allowing the district to continue normal operation.”

The school will be updating parents as information becomes available and our student information system is back online.

“We are planning to be open and running on a regular schedule tomorrow,” Buck said of the start of the 2019-2020 school year on Tuesday.

In November 2016, Madison County paid a ransom of $21,000 on the advice of its insurance company after the system was hacked. Madison County had ransomware insurance that was expected to cover the costs.

After paying the ransom, the county obtained the keys to remove the encryption from the computer servers so that officials could gain access to data.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system and files until a sum of money is paid. The program encrypts files, thus preventing anyone without an encryption code from accessing them.

Though many county systems were locked out as a result of the attack, voting records and ballots are held on a separate system and were unaffected for the 2016 election.

In response to the ransomware attack on the Madison County computer system, data is now stored at two off-site locations in hopes of preventing a future attack.
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