Zoom Wars: Loudoun, Fairfax County Public Schools Battling Internet Security Attacks, Including Porn

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Two northern Virginia school districts struggled with internet security problems in their first week.

Loudoun County Public Schools’  (LCPS) virtual learning was interrupted by ten cases of people logging into classes and using racial slurs or displaying pornographic and racist imagery, according to reporting by WUSA 9.  Also last week, Fairfax County Public Schools announced that they are the victims of a ransomware attack.

LCPS parent Amy Kirk told WUSA 9, “I asked [my son] specifically what did the video have, and he very sheepishly quietly said two naked women, and I said what did you do, and he said nothing, he didn’t want to talk about it.”

A press release stated, “LCPS is aware that social media posts with racist and other inappropriate content have been appearing on various platforms over the last 24 hours, some of which name LCPS schools or are attributed to LCPS students. Many posts are attributed to a person who claims to be an LCPS student, although no one with that name attends our schools.”

In an email to parents, Superintendent Eric Williams condemned the images and slurs. He said the district was working to educate faculty and teachers on how to control their digital classrooms. Williams warned students and parents that the school would hold students accountable for their actions.

“Although some may believe that it is acceptable to use expressions that are defined as racial slurs as a term of endearment to their friends, LCPS will not tolerate such language in a school environment. The display of sexually explicit and pornographic images is a violation of our Student Code of Conduct and will also not be tolerated. LCPS will also cooperate with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in investigations.”

Fairfax County Public Schools Director of News and Information, Lucy Caldwell, told The Virginia Star, “We recently learned that ransomware was placed on some of our systems.  We are taking this matter very seriously and are working diligently to address the issue.  We have retained leading security experts to help us investigate the matter and recover from the situation.  We also are coordinating our efforts with law enforcement authorities.”

Caldwell would not say which systems or data were compromised by the attacks.

“The ransomware issue did not disrupt the distance learning program during the first week of school,” the district said in a press release. “If it is determined in the course of our investigation that personal information has been compromised, we will take steps to notify affected individuals as appropriate. ”

“At this time, we are not asking staff or students to make changes to their devices as a result of this issue,” the release added.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network.  Email tips to [email protected]

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