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CNY school districts hit by cyberattacks, Schumer calls for investigation

Ellen Abbott
The Central New York Regional Information Center has been the target of a number of cyberattacks this year

Dozens of central New York School Districts are coping with a rash of cyberattacks that has put data about students at risk.

There have been nine recorded cyberattacks on the Central New York Regional Information Center (CNYRIC) since April. It provides technological services to the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES and the nearly 50 school districts it deals with. CNYRIC Chief Technology Director Pam Mazzaferro said BOCES identified the attacks early on, so no there was no data breach, but said they were well crafted attacks.

"As we were making changes to protect ourselves against the attacks, they were making changes to counter our adjustments, so very sophisticated," Mazzaferro said.

Even though data wasn’t stolen, each attack meant a shutdown of the system, leaving teachers and school personnel without access to cloud-based data, like lesson plans.

Mazzaferro says there have been attacks on other Regional Information Centers across the state, but not as concentrated as the ones in central New York. The center is beefing up its cyber security, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation into the cyberattacks.

"I am calling on the Department of Homeland Security to launch an immediate investigation of these cyberattacks," Schumer said Monday. "Uncover who did it, and work hand in hand with local officials so they don’t happen again."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.