PEKIN — Pekin Community High School officials are still mopping up after a cyberattack late last month, but the hard work lies ahead as they figure out how to prevent such an event in the future.

When school officials flipped their computers on April 24, they could not access any information on Skyward — the files were encrypted. The school was told that it would have to pay $37,000 to get the perpetrator to open the files.

“We’re still having to rebuild some of our servers in terms of our server spaces, but for the most part we are back up and running,” said Superintendent Danielle Owens. “There are still things that have to be rebuilt from it. But our student information system is up and running. 

“We’re getting back closer to normal for sure compared to last week at this time. We came in on Monday morning and pretty much had access of nothing server wise in terms of student information. The next couple of days, the issue obviously from this point is rebuilding from backup. We have so much information saved in (the teacher’s) server space for every teacher.”

The hacker was able to get into the school servers by using a teachers’s email. Owens said the teacher was not at fault in any way.

Owens said the district has backup servers off campus, so the information from those is being loaded back onto the servers that were hacked. No information was stollen in the attack. The intent, said Owens, was to extort money from the district.

“So we spent last week doing a lot of things by hand that we haven’t had to do in a long time,” said Owens. “Teachers had taken attendance for two or three days by hand and now we have to put that information in the system.”

The teachers will have to hand load written information on grades, lunches, attendance and other student data.

Had the district paid the $37,000, said Owens, the payment would have gone to an offshore account and would be virtually untraceable.

Pekin Police Chief John Dossey said people need to be aware of what is happening with their computers. He said his department is not equipped to deal with cyberattacks from overseas. 

Typically the FBI handles those. He did not know if the matter was referred to the FBI.

Follow Sharon Woods Harris at Twitter.com/sharrispekin