School Admin Shared Non-Public Details of Ransomware Attack with Private Company

Scott Travis reports ethical questions about yet more lack of transparency by Broward County Public Schools when they were hit by Conti ransomware. In November 2021, DataBreaches provided a brief recap of the situation to that date, reporting that

In March, 2021, Broward County Public Schools disclosed a breach that captured the public’s attention when Conti threat actors subsequently released a copy of their negotiation chat logs.  When negotiations failed to result in an agreement, the threat actors dumped nearly 26,000 files on their dark web and clearnet leak sites.

Now, seven months after Conti dumped the 26,000 files, Broward County Public Schools has issued a press release that acknowledges that the files accessed by the threat actors “may have potentially included the sensitive information of some faculty, staff, and students.”

Now we learn that while school district officials weren’t being more transparent with the public, employees, and students, they may have been sharing non-public information in a report that may have been used to market commercial services one official would be offering. Travis reports:

Former Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie helped write a report for a private company about how his school district responded to crisis situations, revealing details about a ransomware attack that the district had repeatedly refused to share with the public.

The case study was co-authored by former district administrators Brian Katz and Philip Dunn, who started a company last year called Safer School Solutions. Dunn was still employed as the school district’s technology chief in September 2021 when the report was completed. Katz and Runcie had already left.

Read more at Government Technology

One detail that will almost certainly raise eyebrows among intel and incident response professionals is the report that law enforcement actually encouraged the district to offer to pay ransom to Conti — although the rest of the advice was that they not actually pay it — just use the offer to stall Conti to try to buy more time.

That revelation may make it harder for other victims and gives more ammo to threat actors who threaten victims if they go to law enforcement.

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