Heroes at Work: Brevard Public Schools maintains cybersecurity awareness during pandemic learning

Brevard Public Schools, one of three winners in the eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards program, navigated a ransomware event and still sustained learning—all during a pandemic

Heroes at Work is a three-part series featuring excerpts from conversations with the grand prize winners of the 2021 eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards program, sponsored by Trox. Click through for the full interview:

Here, eSchool News highlights Florida’s Brevard Public Schools–one of three K-12 Hero Awards winners. Keep reading this interview with Barrett Puschus, Director of Information Technology for Brevard Public Schools, to discover how the district navigated a cybersecurity attack and keeps learning going in the middle of a global pandemic.

eSN: It’s pretty brave of you to talk about cybersecurity practices. Not a lot of districts will. How did the break-in go down?

BP: As far as talking about it, I believe we can’t succeed in isolation and we shouldn’t fail in isolation. So this is kind of a tale of both. We were notified of the event and we jumped on it and we kicked him out. We got him out before the ransom happened, but it really opened our eyes to our vulnerability—how easy it was for them to get in.

They didn’t exploit some zero-day issue on one of our external servers. They didn’t have any clever IP attack or anything like that. They just sent an attachment to somebody in accounts receivable, they opened it, and our virus blocked it. So she replied to the email and said, “Hey, it didn’t work.” So he tried to change up and the change-up got through.

They were in our system for probably 45-60 days before we knew anything. Thankfully we found out about it and got them out ahead of time. We weren’t one of the stories where we were ransomed and had to restore from backups or anything like that. Thank goodness.

Kevin Hogan
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