Mississippi school district pays cybercriminals $150,000 to delete hacked data | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack

The Vicksburg Warren School District was hacked by a group of cybercriminals last month and paid a $150,000 ransom to prevent personal information about district employees — including social security numbers — from being leaked publicly or sold.

The school’s servers were breached on May 28 after a district employee installed bugged software onto a district-owned device, a district employee told Mississippi Today on Thursday. The district paid the ransom in an attempt to prevent the hackers from releasing additional sensitive personal information on students and employees, according to the employee. 

A screenshot showing what was posted to the hackers’ website that was sent to the Vicksburg Warren School District along with a request for ransom.

The hacker group posted district employees’ social security numbers online, according to screenshots shared with Mississippi Today, and sent the link to the district along with a bill. The ransomware attack also resulted in the internet service for the entire district being shut down for one day, another employee said.

“The network of Warren Vicksburg School was screwed and now we have about 10 GB of data from file servers, including internal company documents and personal information,” the group’s website read before it was removed. “According to our rules we are publishing this data step by step in case if this company will keep silence (sic).”

The Vicksburg attack comes after last month’s ransomware attack on the Colonial Pipeline and dozens of other American entities in recent weeks, renewing fears about technology being used to hold the government or entire sectors of the economy hostage.

Two teachers in Vicksburg Warren school district told Mississippi Today on Thursday they were unaware there had been a security breach or that their personal information may have been compromised. An administrator in the district was aware of the incident, but did not know about any leaked personal information.

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