FRANCONIA — The cyber attack on Souderton Area School District's computer systems was a ransomware attack, the district said in an update posted on the district website Sept. 9.   

"This message is an update on the network disruption that affected Souderton Area School District over the Labor Day weekend. We have confirmed that the disruption was the result of a ransomware attack. Ransomware is a software used by cybercriminals to encrypt or 'lock up' files on computers or servers with the goal of making those items inaccessible.

"The District is working diligently with the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Secret Service and local authorities, as well as with a specialized cybersecurity firm. Our priority is to remediate the disruption and encryption caused by the ransomware and to restore the District and its services to normal operations as soon as possible.

"Currently the ransomware attack is still resulting in some disruptions to the technology systems of the District. While teachers have limited access to e-mail, parents are advised to call the school office in the event of any time-sensitive matter.

"Despite the interruptions to technology, please be assured that teaching and learning remain vibrant in our classrooms. Our students and staff have been exemplary in their response during this challenging time.  We are hopeful that full-service operations will be restored soon and are committed to minimizing any disruptions to student learning.

"Understanding concerns expressed to the District, we want to reaffirm that our financial systems are stored off-site and financial information remains secure. We also do not anticipate any disruptions to the school calendar. 

"We appreciate your continued patience and flexibility and will communicate with you and update the district Web site as information becomes available," the update, signed by Superintendent Dr. Frank Gallagher, said.

In response to an emailed question of whether ransom had been paid or is planned to be paid, Gallagher wrote, "No comment at this time." 

In a separate release, the district said the district-wide computer network was immediately shut down and Internet connections were disabled when the attack was discovered.

Students were also told to power off their school-issued devices and to return the devices to their school.  

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