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Data ransom attack on Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich prompts identity theft warning to parents


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A secondary school in Sandwich has fallen victim to a cyber attack with parents warned to remain vigilant over identity theft.

Sir Roger Manwood's informed parents of pupils on Friday that it had been targeted in a "ransomware attack" with its servers being compromised.

Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich has been targeted in data ransom attack. Picture: Alan Langley
Sir Roger Manwood's School in Sandwich has been targeted in data ransom attack. Picture: Alan Langley

Such attack is carried out by cyber criminals using malicious software that blocks access to a computer system or data, threatening to publish or block access to it unless a ransom is paid.

A further update on Saturday lunchtime confirmed one of the servers that was compromised was the school's Management Information System (MIS).

This holds information such as names, addresses, date of birth, phone numbers and other details.

Head teacher Lee Hunter warned parents that such information could be used for identity theft and advised them to "stay vigilant and watch for any unusual activity".

In the letter, seen by KentOnline, he wrote: "Most of our servers have been compromised unfortunately, so it could be days before we can get the system up and running again as each machine, and each server, has to be individually checked for the presence of the code and then cleaned. It is only once that has been done that each can then be connected back to the network.

Head teacher Lee Hunter told parents the attack took place overnight from Thursday into Friday. Picture: Tony Flashman
Head teacher Lee Hunter told parents the attack took place overnight from Thursday into Friday. Picture: Tony Flashman

"I regret to inform you that one of the servers that was compromised was the one that holds our Management Information System (MIS) on it.

"To get into the MIS requires a different password than that required for entry to the system so we are hopeful that no entry was made into that. We have one of our IT support companies currently looking to see if the attack included any data being taken off site and I will update you once we know.

"We have informed the police of this criminal action and they have told us to point all parents to the following website for more information: www.actionfraud.police.uk

"For now, their advice is to stay vigilant and watch for any unusual activity.

"One thing I can confirm though is that the School Gateway system that stores parents bank account details is completely separate and is not part of the school system - that is a separate company - and as such bank account details are not affected by this.

The school is currently closed to pupils due to a high number of Covid-19 cases
The school is currently closed to pupils due to a high number of Covid-19 cases

"The School is contacting the Information Commissioner’s Office to notify them that there has been a potential data breach.

"We fully appreciate the worry that this news will cause, but I can confirm that the School does have the recommended firewalls and other protection measures in place to try and stop something like this happening."

Mr Hunter, Kent Police and Kent County Council have been approached for comments.

The school is currently closed to all of its pupils with 36 students and six staff reported to have tested positive for Covid-19.

The cases are majoritively in Years 10 and 11, with a few cases in Year 7, Year 12 and Year 13. There are no cases in Year 8 and only one in Year 9.

Read more: All the latest news from Sandwich

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