NJ: Swedesboro-Woolwich School District Hacked, Ransom Demanded

Walt Hunter reports:

The FBI, New Jersey State Police, county and local investigators are on the trail of hackers who hijacked a Gloucester County school’s district’s computer network, demanding a ransom payment to make it usable again.

The Superintendent of the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District says the unidentified hackers are demanding a payment of 500 bitcoins, the equivalent of $128,000, to return the computer system to working condition.

Read more on CBS.

A message on the district’s website states:

On Sunday March 22, the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District was attacked by malicious software also known as ransomware. Ransomware is distributed via spam email attachments, applications that are contaminated, or websites that are hacked by criminals. Once discovered the district took steps to contain the infection and began the process of cleansing and rebuilding.

Forensic analysis is being performed by the NJ State police. At this point there appears to be no data breach. The files affected were mainly word documents, excel spreadsheets and .pdf files created by staff members. Data for the student information system as well as other applications is stored offsite on hosted servers and was not affected by the virus.

Encrypted files were restored from backup to their original state. Servers were restored to remove any trace of the malware. Email and other systems are being restored as quickly as possible.

Woolwich Police authorities are involved in the investigation as well as the NJ State police cyber crimes unit, FBI and Homeland Security.

OK, but what’s this nonsense from the Superintendent that “Without working computers, teachers cannot take attendance, access phone numbers or records, and students cannot purchase food in cafeterias.”

Gee, I remember the days when teachers took attendance by checking off our names on paper charts, when our phone numbers were on index cards in the school office, and we paid cash for food in the cafeteria. Are schools TOO reliant on technology now? Seems so if they can’t figure out how to operate without computers.

The Superintendent says, without Smartboards, students Monday used pens, pencils and papers, going back to, what he described, “education as it was 20 or 30 years ago.”

Wow. The horror of it all.

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