Ransomware threat actors dump data from yet another k-12 district
The past few days have not been great ones for k-12 districts. As this site reported, DoppelPaymer ransomware threat actors recently dumped data from both Pascagoula-Gautier School District in Mississippi and Gardiner Public Schools in Montana. Now a third school district has also had some of their data dumped.
On December 14, this site had noted a report that Weslaco ISD in Texas had been the victim of a cyberattack. In a statement issued by the district that day, they wrote:
We do not know the extent of the attack, and we are working to contain the threat.
They may now have a slightly better understanding of the extent of the attack, as the Conti threat actors have dumped a few of the files they had exfiltrated from the district. Some of the files are routine business files, but some files reveal personal and educational information about named students. There were a few immunization records dumped, as well as a special education report on a named student showing less than hoped-for progress. There was also a file showing an adult’s SSN.
But the most concerning file dumped in the limited sample was a spread sheet with more than 5,000 records that appear to relate to students’ demographic information as well as evaluations for special education services. The data fields included the student’s first and last name, date of birth, ethnicity, race, immigrant status, gender, grade, age, whether the student was multiply disabled, their Social Security Number, initial district placement, any Medicaid number, primary language, whether the student was at risk, whether the student qualified for free or reduced lunch, whether the student was dyslexic, whether the student was medically fragile, whether the student needed assistive technology, the date of any meeting to review disability evaluation, the student’s classification as a student with a disability (the type of disability), the related service(s) the student was to get, whether a Behavior Intervention Plan was in place, whether the student needed itinerant instruction, parent name and contact information, and need for specialized evaluation such as psychological evaluation, an autism evaluation, audiological evaluation, etc. And of course, there were fields related to English as a second language. It appeared to be the kind of file that might be prepared to comply with state education department auditing and reporting requirements.
There were many more fields than just those listed above, and based on date of birth data, many people listed in the data should no longer be students in the district. But the fact that the data includes some of those data types as well as demographic and disability-related information makes this breach a serious one. And depending what other files or databases were on the server these files were exfiltrated from, there may be a lot more concerning disclosures to come. Did the attackers get psychoeducational evaluation reports or social histories? Did they get counseling records? Did they get employee W-2 data and any direct deposit account numbers? Did they get any sensitive personnel files?
An email inquiry sent to the district’s Superintendent and a few board members over the weekend has not received any reply by the time of this publication. If a reply is received, this post will be updated.