The New South Wales Department of Education has revealed it was hit by a cybersecurity attack earlier this week and has temporarily shut down its internal systems.
The revelation comes just hours after schools were asked to prepare for a week of remote learning amid the current COVID-19 restrictions in the state.
NSW Education Minister first disclosed the incident on Twitter midday Thursday.
“I’ve been informed the Department of Education has been a victim of a cybersecurity attack. As a precaution, all systems have been taken down. I am assured systems for teachers will be online ASAP and students learning from home next week will not be impacted,” Mitchell said.
“I understand many teachers will be angry about the situation but please know everything is being done to reactivate as soon as possible.”
I’ve been informed the Department of Education has been a victim of a cyber-security attack. As a precaution, all systems have been taken down. I am assured systems for teachers will be online ASAP and students learning from home next week will not be impacted.— Sarah Mitchell (@smitchellmlc) July 8, 2021
In its announcement, the Department said some of its internal systems were deactivated as a precaution and have been unavailable since late Wednesday 7 July.
NSW Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson said the Department’s priority is the safety and security of its student and staff data, and it has therefore made the precautionary decision to take some systems offline while it investigates further.
"The timing of this creates considerable challenges for staff as we prepare for the start of Term 3,” Harrisson said.
“Thankfully, our teams have been able to isolate the issues and we are working to reactivate services as soon as possible.”
The Department said it was closely working with Cyber Security NSW to ensure normal access to the systems is restored in time for the start of Term 3. NSW Police has also been engaged, along with some federal government agencies.
“I am confident we will have the issue resolved soon and want to reassure teachers and parents that there will be no impact on students learning from home next week,” Harrisson added.
"Whilst we are confident all systems will be back online before Day 1, Term 3, we are making information to support home learning available on our public website so that preparations for the start of term can continue."