ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As students continue learning from home while the Victor School District works through a ransomware attack, Spectrum News talked with an expert about the technical side of what’s happening.

Jonathan S. Weissman is a senior lecturer with RIT’s Computing Security Department. He explained that these kind of malware attacks work by encrypting computers and holding a victim’s data hostage until a payment is made.

Weissman says victims like the Victor School District are put in the difficult situation of having important, personal data at the mercy of cyber criminals.

“When you’re talking about schools where the online platforms have a lot of information about students, faculty, staff, and operational activities, the cyber criminals know that if that data is stolen, schools will do anything they can to get it back and protect it from being released on the web,” Weissman said.

Regardless, the U.S. Treasury Department strongly advises against ever paying a ransomware. Weissman says the strongest offense is preventing malware from happening by working to avoid email phishing scams and being careful of what websites you visit and ads you click on.

The Victor School District’s internet and phones have been down since it was hit over the weekend. For now, students are completing virtual assignments and in-person learning remains suspended.