Montana district hacked, threatened by TheDarkOverlord; offers lessons to Spokane-area schools

There are a few interesting details on the Montana (Flathead) attack by TheDarkOverlord (TDO) in an article by Eli Francovich in The Spokesman-Review. It sounds like TDO used methods they’ve used in the past and did a good job of covering their digital footprints.

I’ve started looking into the Flathead/Columbia Falls incident a bit more because when you think about it, how did a cyber-threat result in more than 30 schools being closed for so many days? What kind of threats were being used that seemed credible at the time?  The local media were relatively silent on the specifics of the threats, but TheDarkOverlord has started sharing a few details with me and I hope to follow up with law enforcement and school personnel in Montana over the next week or so to get additional confirmation and details.  Would it make sense to be more transparent about what happened in that case so that other districts might recognize any pattern or threats if the same thing should happen to them?

But one aspect continues to pose a particular threat to the students and their parents of that community. Law enforcement and school personnel know that the attackers got very sensitive information from school medical and counseling records, although they claim that they are not sure of exactly how much.  Based on their past track record, my guess would have to be that TDO got all of it. All of it. I have seen evidence of their work on so many hacks by now that the only way I think they’d omit files is if there was some accidental oversight or exfiltration snafu. They are thorough, and at some point, they were specifically looking for medical and counseling records because they would be great for extortion purposes. In an encrypted chat with this blogger, the hackers even quoted or described a few of the records that they claim to have acquired to demonstrate the range of what they had acquired. From an extortion/pressure perspective, the material was pure “gold.”

The only question I really see is what they will do with all that data now. And that’s a worrying question.

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