As schools get hit with cyberattacks, Schumer calls for response from Congress and FBI

Justin Murphy, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Congress and the FBI on Wednesday to help school districts and other local government bodies threatened by increasingly common and sophisticated cyberattacks.

The issue has put school districts across New York on guard, particularly after the Syracuse City School District was hit with ransomware this year. The district paid a $50,000 insurance premium to free itself, Schumer said.

"It’s a threat that’s wreaking havoc on our state and more specifically our schools," he said. “It's time to hit 'control-alt-delete' on ransomware and take a megabyte out of hackers."

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has had it with hackers.

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A bill called the Department of Homeland Security Cyber Incident Response Teams Act, which passed the House of Representatives, would create specific teams within the DHS to assist local government against cyberattacks.

Schumer said the FBI should be more active in targeting attacks at their source, often out of the country. State bureau offices would investigate specific incidents and report back to various levels of government.

"Often when districts get these cyberattacks, they don’t know exactly who to turn to," Schumer said. "This is way beyond the scope of local officials."

In the Rochester area, school districts have fallen victim to hacking attempts in the past several years, though in two cases, it was students, not foreign agents, who did it.

Last month, a data breach in the education tech giant Pearson resulted in the exposure of mostly nonsensitive student and employee data at school districts across the country.

Contributing: Gary Stern, USA TODAY Network

Follow Justing Murphy on Twitter: @CitizenMurphy

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Charles Schumer: Time for Congress, FBI to address school cyberattacks