BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma - Broken Arrow Public Schools network and servers have been hit by ransomware.

The district said they have contacted the FBI and that cyber security experts are working to try and fix the issue. An investigation is underway to try and figure out who sent the ransomware.

Dr. John Hale of the University of Tulsa said while prevention is the best defense, it's not if you will get it with ransomware, it's unfortunately when.

The Broken Arrow Public School system has its hands full. There’s only about three weeks from the start of classes and this could be a big set-back.

"Essentially, its purely a profit game for them. They understand the targets and the tolerances of the targets," said Hale, the Department Chair of the Tandy School of Computer Science at the University of Tulsa.

School officials said they’re not aware of any personal data or financial information that has been leaked and said they have no plans to pay the ransom.

Hale said the decision to pay or not pay must be left up the organization.

"These individuals, these groups are going to go after companies that rely on information daily operation. That cannot afford the really robust security defenses that might make this more of a challenge for the hacker," said Hale.

Hale said the best way to prevent ransomware is to have a good backup strategy, to educate others on what to look for, and to make sure your antivirus software is up to date. He said with increased technology, comes an increased risk.

"If you think about being locked out of your data, which is maybe bad enough, imagine now that our homes are more automated, our cars are basically computers on four wheels," said Hale.

Hale said an attack like this can come from anywhere and the best thing to do is to always be prepared.

"It is such an unfortunately profitable thing and again most of the attacks are on the small to medium size businesses. It’s just a matter of when your number is up," said Hale.

The school system issued the following statement:

 

Broken Arrow Public Schools has recently been experiencing network and server issues which are believed to be caused by criminal actors attempting to disrupt the operations of our district.

Immediately upon becoming aware of the issues, we began taking steps to investigate the situation and notified our cyber insurance carrier. The Board of Education voted to enter into agreements with leading cybersecurity experts to assist us with the investigation and recovery efforts and to enhance the security of our digital environment.

The experts have confirmed we have been the victim of a ransomware attack. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid. We have no plans to pay the ransom.

Broken Arrow Public Schools places the utmost importance on our network and system security, and district technology experts have been working diligently with vendors to restore normal operations as soon as possible. At this time, we are not aware of any unauthorized disclosure of student personal data or financial information.

We have also notified the FBI of this incident and will provide whatever cooperation is necessary to hold the wrongdoers accountable.

We appreciate your patience during this period.

The school year is still scheduled to start on Wednesday, Aug. 21. (Pre-K Aug. 23). Schedule pickups for students will be held as planned. Bus route information will be available on Aug. 16.