‘Possible cyberattack’ led to cancellation of virtual classes, Norfolk Public Schools says


(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Public Schools says a possible cyberattack may have led to the cancellation of virtual classes earlier this month.

According to NPS Chief Information & Instructional Technology Officer Dr. Michael Cataldo, school administrators initially received a report from Microsoft regarding cyberattacks within the area.

On Friday, October 30, schools officials detected “unusual activity” and quickly cancelled all student instruction to reduce further activity.

Classes were cancelled on November 2 and was treated as an “inclement weather day.”

Read Dr. Cataldo’s statement below:

Norfolk Public Schools received information initially from Microsoft regarding cyberattacks within our regional area and a strong possibility within several school divisions.  On Friday, October 30, 2020, we detected unusual activity and higher than normal network traffic.  With the warning of the potential threat and the unusual activity, we activated our network disaster recovery plan.  In preparation of potential cyber-attacks, our NPS IT department disconnected the division’s Internet connection to reduce the opportunity for any further activity. Once it was determined that no student or staff data was compromised or released, we began the process of bringing our systems back online and verifying all of our data. In this process we prioritized services dedicated to student instruction (Zoom, Canvas, Google Classroom), so that classes could resume on Wednesday, November 4. Other systems will come online over the following week as we complete the full restoration and data verification process.

Dr. Michael Cataldo, Chief Information & Instructional Technology Officer 

It is not yet clear how much the cyberattack and the slight delay will affect Norfolk Public School’s first quarter. NPS teachers and students have until Monday, November 16, to turn in final grades and assignments for the first quarter.

Second quarter began on Wednesday, November 4.

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