Crowder computer system shutdown to deal with virus

No data breach found
Crowder computer system shutdown to deal with virus

A computer virus led to the shutdown of Crowder Colleges computer system. Campus staff are learning what life is like without technology.

Jessica Powell used paper forms and schedules to help a student wanting to switch a class Tuesday. Staff are going old school after a virus led Crowder college to shut down its entire computer system July 11th. Since then no computers, no website, and no email.

Crowder president Glenn Coltharp said forensic experts determined, “There was no data breach and no loss of any of our important information. It was just a discomfort to everyone that we went for a week and a half without any technology. Departments are slowing getting back on line.

Keith Zoromski, the Assistant Vice President of Academic affairs said, ” Here at Crowder College we rely on servant leadership. Everyone’s been able to find a way to step up to alleviate that stress. It is frustrating to not be able to operate in the way we’re used to, but we’re finding a way to ensure instruction remains as consistent as possible.

The impact was lessened by the fact that it is summer. For those students on campus Zoromski said, “We’ve relied heavily on text messaging especially through apps that allow us to use distribution lists. So, we may contact our division chair who contacts their instructor who then may contact their students. We’ve used our learning management system called Blackboard with its various features to communicate with students other than email which would not have been accessible.”

Coltharp said classes were able to continue using Blackboard because it is web based, from another location.

Zoromski’s office got new flooring so staff helped move back furniture while others painted or purged old documents and shredded them.
Information technology staff are re-imaging computers in more than 40 labs across campus so that Microsoft and other apps come in clean. The virus likely entered through an email.

Coltharp said, “Our records show it had been in the system for a little while. It was programed to wait until the right moment and then surface. So, it was a very, very smart virus.

The I.T. department developed a system that allows them to re-image up to fifteen computers at a time. While there were offers of help from outsiders, insurance dictated how the college proceed.

Coltharp explained, “We have cyber security insurance with it. So, they provide the support with it. And it was much easier to continue with them bringing in the experts to help with it. We’ve had a lot of offers, and we appreciate that, but we needed to limit it to the people who were involved with it. And it was also a good learning experience for our own I.T. staff to be involved with that.”

Crowder I.T. crews say the work is about 75 percent complete at the main campus. But they will also re-image computers at Crowder satellite schools as well.

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