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Education Desk
The Education Desk is our education blog focusing on key areas of news coverage important to the state and its improvement. Evidence of public policy performance and impact will be reported and analyzed. We encourage you to engage in commenting and discussing the coverage of education from pre-natal to Higher Ed.Dusty Rhodes curates this blog that will provide follow-up to full-length stories, links to other reports of interest, statistics, and conversations with you about the issues and stories.About - Additional Education Coverage00000179-2419-d250-a579-e41d385d0000

Hackers Attack LA, Boston, And...Crab Orchard?

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Crab Orchard School District is east of Marion, IL, in a rural area its superintendent describes as "the middle of nowhere."

Derek Hutchins is the superintendent of Crab Orchard Schools. It's a district of only 530 students, east of the town of Marion, in southern Illinois.  So he was surprised last week when his tech support guy showed up in his office with big news.


"He said, 'You'll never guess what's going on today.' I said, 'No clue.' He said, 'We're trying to get hacked.' I said what do you mean? He said, 'We've been hit in the last two hours with about 14,000 attacks trying to get through our firewall,' " Hutchins says.

Even more surprising: "The majority of (the attacks) were from North Korea and Russia,” Hutchins says. “So that tells me they're just phishing. They're trying to find, you know, ways that they can get into our system."

This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that school districts in Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles have been attacked by computer hackers stealing staff paychecks, hijacking student information and holding files for ransom.


Hutchins says his district benefits from being small (just about 530 students) and tech-savvy. The “tech guy” dedicated to maintaining school computers has a system that automatically backs up every machine, every evening. Hutchins says that paid off when one person opened a phishing email and received a ransom request. Staff simply wiped that machine and used the backup data to restore it.?


After a long career in newspapers (Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News, Anchorage Daily News, Illinois Times), Dusty returned to school to get a master's degree in multimedia journalism. She began work as Education Desk reporter at NPR Illinois in September 2014.
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