You don’t get to hear about school districts getting hacked often but that did happen recently. An entire school district in Montana was shut down for three days after hackers breached into servers and gained access to student and faculty records. The hack itself wouldn’t have prompted the shutdown probably, it was the ominous threats from hackers that led to the shutdown.
Some parents reportedly received “extremely graphic threats via text messages.” Hackers also sent a ransom note to the school board demanding payments in bitcoin if they wanted the hacked data to be destroyed.
From Thursday through Monday, 15,700 students of the Columbia Falls School District were unable to attend classes because they were canceled. Authorities gave the all clear today as they believe that those behind the threats “have frequently failed to live up to their promises to not release the stolen data in the past, even when their ransom demands have been met.”
A hacker group calling itself TheDarkOverlord Solutions claimed to be behind this hack. Hackers have used this game in recent high profile attacks on Netflix and ABC. There’s no evidence to suggest if the same group of people that were behind those attacks are those who hacked the school district.
The hackers infiltrated the school district’s server and stole information about past and present students, staff members, and parents. Information included names, medical records, and addresses. NBC News heard from Whitefish Police Chief Bill Dial who said that they had also accessed Columbia Fall School District’s security cameras.
The FBI was brought in to help with the investigation over the weekend. No information has been released about the content of the threatening messages. The ransom note that was released contained references to the tragic 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
The ransom note asked for as much as $150,000 in bitcoin. The suspect behind this is believed to be of British origin and based in Europe. The person is reportedly on an international watchlist and isn’t allowed to enter the United States.
Since the person can’t enter the country, any threat of physical violence becomes a moot point. That’s likely why the all clear was given today.
Police Chief Dial told reporters yesterday that “I am 100 percent confident there is no threat. It was all a ruse.”