District Administration July 2018 - 68

DISTRICT CIO

RAPID RECOVERY

Whatever the cause, school districts
will likely deal with network failures or
breaches. To recover effectively, district
technology professionals can respond
with the following strategies.

The first steps in responding are to
figure out what's happening and why,
and to determine what equipment and
data have been affected.
Hartford Union's network monitoring software showed that normal
midday usage of 250 megabytes of
data had jumped to between 800 and
900 megabytes. With a phone call to
the district's internet service provider,
Mielke realized the district was experiencing a distributed denial of service
(DDOS) attack. As soon as the ISP realized what the problem was, it redirected
legitimate traffic, a tactic also known as
"right-limiting the port," Mielke says.
The ISP returned to normal operations
within about 15 minutes.
The next step is to assess what data
is at risk and how to protect it. For
instance, with email phishing-a primary threat for most school districts-a

Quick thinking required
When a network failure occurs, most
school district leaders don't immediately realize what has happened. At
Beaverton, because the damaging gas
was odorless and colorless, tech leaders
didn't immediately understand why the
hard drives failed and wouldn't reboot.
At Hartford Union High School
District in the Milwaukee suburbs,
students and teachers were using the
internet one day in October 2016 when
"suddenly, everyone was disconnected,"
says Nathan Mielke, director of technology services. "The icon was just spinning and nobody could connect."

Back on track
Steps to take when networks fail and data is threatened:

1

2

3

Identify
the cause

Determine which hardware
has been affected

Assess what
data is at risk

4

Prevent incident from spreading by:

a

b

changing
passwords

disabling
accounts

5
Notify users about the
extent of the disruption

68 July 2018

6
Assemble the
recovery team

c
adding two-factor
authentication

7
Update procedures to
prepare for future incidents

district staff member may inadvertently
supply a hacker with access to passwords and other confidential information. When that happens, technology
leaders must immediately determine
what data was compromised and take
steps to stem the damage.
"You may be able to change passwords, disable accounts or add twofactor authentication so the criminal
can't get into billing or other parts of
the network," Boles says.
Similarly, if a district is attacked with
ransomware or malware, the tech team
must find out as soon as possible-usually with the help of outside security
professionals-which parts of the network have been hijacked. "Maybe you
can prevent the attack from moving to
the server and going across the enterprise by changing passwords and blocking further access," Boles says. "Find
out if you're bleeding data or if it can
be contained. Determine whether you
should shut down the network."
It's also crucial to know what servers
house different types of data, Boles says.
For instance, if server A, containing HR
records, is compromised but server B,
which holds financial data, is not, you
only need to focus on HR information.
And by segregating backups from your
network ahead of time, you'll be able to
get your data back if you have to pull
the plug on the whole system.
Transparency leads to teamwork
As soon as a problem is detected, it's
important to inform users throughout
the district-but word choice is crucial.
When Hartford Union experienced the
denial-of-service attack, "we communicated that we were experiencing an
incident and that we were working with
our ISP to handle it, but we were very
careful with the words we used," Mielke
says. "It wasn't a breach and it wasn't
really an attack. It was a cyberevent,
and we knew that nobody's information
was at risk."

District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration July 2018

District Administration July 2018 - 1
District Administration July 2018 - Cover1
District Administration July 2018 - Cover2
District Administration July 2018 - 1
District Administration July 2018 - 2
District Administration July 2018 - 3
District Administration July 2018 - 4
District Administration July 2018 - 5
District Administration July 2018 - 6
District Administration July 2018 - 7
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District Administration July 2018 - Cover3
District Administration July 2018 - Cover4
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