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April 10. 2013 10:37PM

Computer virus hits schools in Salem

SALEM - A nasty virus brought the Salem School District's Internet service to a grinding halt this week, leading school officials to embark on a restoration mission Wednesday afternoon.

Michael Delahanty, superintendent of School Administrative Unit 57, said a worm of unknown origin is believed to have entered this school's computer system at some point on Friday.

Delahanty said he initially believed the issue had been resolved, or at least isolated, in time for the weekend, but by Monday morning more problems arose and the district website went dark on Tuesday.

He said Fairpoint Communications has been contacted to help determine what's causing the web woes.

"We really don't know the extent of problem is at this time," the superintendent said shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday. "But we do know that our email service, Internet access and access to some of our files have been disrupted. It appears we've had several hits against our servers."

Discovering the problem source is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack, Delahanty added, since the district currently uses approximately 85 different servers.

"All of them have to be investigated and cleared," he said. "We're now applying an antivirus program and from there, we have to start checking individual work stations."

In the meantime, staff at the middle school and high school, as well as those at the SAU office, are temporarily unable to access lesson plans and other such files.

For the most part, Salem's elementary schools haven't been affected by the virus, which doesn't seem to have affected any student records.

The district does have backup protection services.

"It's not completely catastrophic," Delahanty said. "Right now, there's no concern over permanent losses. But I'm anticipating it could be a few days before everything is up and running again."

School officials aren't sure how the virus got there, but an outside electronic device a student or staff member could have plugged into one of the school computers seems a likely culprit.

"A worm like this just weaves its way through the service," Delahanty said. "It could have come from a number of different portals. But what it really comes down to is our need to take a closer look at our current level of protection."

aguilmet@newstote.com


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