Riverhead Central School District's administrative office on Osborn Avenue. File photo: Denise Civiletti

Updated Dec. 3, 3:10 p.m.: The Riverhead Central School District was hit by a ransomware attack this morning, shutting down the district’s computer and technology infrastructure for what officials said could be several days.

The district sent out a statement this morning at 8:48 a.m. on their social media alerting parents to what was then described as an “outage” with their internet and email.

The outage was caused by a ransomware attack, the office of the superintendent confirmed to RiverheadLOCAL after a robocall was sent out to district faculty and staff. Law enforcement has been notified, the district said.

The district said in their public statement that their phone lines remain open and that any parent in need of contacting the district can call the schools.

“At this time, it is unclear to what extent this has impacted our district but please know we are working diligently to investigate,” the district said in a second social media statement shortly after 2 p.m.. “We do not believe this incident has any impact on our student management systems, as that data is housed off campus. The district will provide further updates as information becomes available.”

Ransomware is a cyber attack that involves the holding of personal data or information hostage until a ransom is paid. Since fall 2020, school districts have become a primary target of ransomware attacks across the nation, according to the FBI.

The Board of Education approved a Cyber Incident Response Plan at their meeting on Tuesday to address cyber attacks. It is unclear whether the district implemented the plan before the attack occurred.

Tornatore could not be reached for comment before this article was published.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com