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Updated: Friday 16th April 2021. 10.20am.
UPDATE ON HARRIS FEDERATION IT
With the summer term set to begin next week, we wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the progress that has been made following the ransomware attack on Harris Federation before Easter.
As we said at the time, the attack, which was carried out by an organised crime gang, was highly sophisticated and has created a great deal of disruption. Keeping all of our academies open in the days between the attack and the start of the Easter holidays was only possible because of our staff, who pulled out all the stops to enable this to happen. We are very grateful to them for this.
A police investigation into the attack is being led by the National Crime Agency. whilst our main focus has been on restoring our IT systems. Since becoming aware of the attack, Harris Federation staff and our specialist IT and cyber-technology consultants have been working round the clock to successfully restore our data and get our key services back up and running before the end of the holidays.
We have made significant progress, but there is still some work to do. A number of new systems have been put in place and these will take time to be tested and embedded, from Monday. The vast majority of this will impact staff more than our pupils but there will, undoubtedly, be bumps along the road for everyone. We will need pupils and parents to please bear with us as we get back to normal.
As we prepare to get our telephone systems back up and running, our switchboards will still be diverted to mobile telephones. For the time being, please avoid telephoning unless you need to report an absence or in the event of an emergency. We expect to turn on our usual telephone systems very shortly, so this won’t be for long. Emails are working again and throughout Monday staff will be working through accessing and responding to these, please bear with us for a couple of days. If you do not receive a response to any communication by Wednesday, do please contact us again.
Over the first week of term staff will be testing out our IT systems, some of which are new. We have, for security reasons, asked academies to remove key links to other platforms from their websites. You will still be able to safely access the key sites that you need, but you will need to visit these sites directly.
If you need to use ParentPay, please visit: www.parentpay.com
If you want to log in to MCAS, please go to: www.mychildatschool.com
For access to another sites, you should be able to go to the relevant website and log in directly, your academy will inform you of any further details you need.
You will be pleased to hear that SharePoint and the rest of Microsoft Office 365 applications are up and running, with no loss of data. However, we have needed to make some changes to how students access their files. We will roll out new access procedures from next week, prioritising exam groups first.
We will continue to update you as appropriate. In the meantime, we are all very much looking forward to next Monday.
Thank you for your ongoing support and cooperation.
A MESSAGE TO PARENTS AND PUPILS
Last Tuesday 23rd March, the government’s National Cyber Security Centre issued an alert about a spike in so-called ransomware attacks affecting schools. Since that alert, the Harris Federation has also suffered a ransomware attack and, though measures were in place to protect our systems, our servers have been impacted.
A ransomware attack means that cyber-criminals have accessed our IT systems and encrypted, or hidden, their contents. We are at least the fourth multi academy trust to have been targeted in March. The attack came to light on Saturday 27th March, and we have been working through the weekend to begin resolving it.
This is a highly sophisticated attack that will have significant impact on our academies but it will take time to uncover the exact details of what has or has not happened, and to resolve. In addition to using the services of a specialised firm of cyber technology consultants, we are working closely with the National Crime Agency and the National Cyber Security Centre.
Harris academies are open today and we will endeavour to keep them open until the end of term as specified in the table below.
As a precaution we have temporarily disabled our email system. Our telephone systems, which run on the internet, have also been disabled but each academy switchboard has been diverted to a mobile telephone. Switchboard services are therefore very limited and we would ask that you temporarily avoid telephoning us or any Harris academy other than to report absence or in emergencies.
Where pupils have Harris Federation devices, these have been disabled as a precaution and cannot currently be used.
We know that some families will have important individual concerns around data and that in these cases you will want to know more about the nature of the attack. Because we do not want to risk providing incorrect information, we will communicate further once we have clarity and liaise as appropriate with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
End of Term Dates
All of our schools will finish the current term on Wednesday 31st March except for the following:
Tuesday 30th March
Harris Primary Academy Crystal Palace
Thursday 1st April
Harris Academy Chobham
Harris Academy Rainham
Harris Academy Wimbledon
Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park
Harris Primary Academy Haling Park
Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane
Harris Professional Skills Sixth Form
Harris Westminster Sixth Form
Updates about this incident will be published on this website.
Updated: Monday 8th March 2021. 11.47am
All Harris academies are now open for all students.
For further information or advice, contact your academy direct or visit your academy website for further information – Click here.
Department for Education Coronavirus helpline
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
10am to 6pm (Saturday and Sunday)
If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the helpline.
Helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687