The district of Leominster Public Schools became the latest victim of a Bitcoin ransomware attack. The school district was forced to pay $ 10,000 in Bitcoin to unlock their system.
On April 14, suspected hackers detected the computer system of the Leominster Public Schools district in Massachusetts, closing it. According to Paula Deacon, the superintendent of the school district, a lock was placed on the computer system and a ransom was requested. In the meantime, the cyber hijackers established that the ransom was to be paid in Bitcoin.
As part of the negotiations between the school district and hackers, the decryption keys were sent to unlock some of the blocked files as a demonstration. Commenting on the matter, Dean Mazzarella, the mayor of Leominster, said that those responsible were “smart”. He also said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was tracking the matter. According to the mayor, the payment of the $ 10,000 ransom will be taken from the general fund of the city. Mazzarella also added:
They were on top of their game. They are using the best and highest technology. They were just looking for an opening and the system was hacked one way or another.
BITCOIN RANSOMWARE IS ‘IMPOSSIBLE TO TRACE’
Michael Goldman, the head of the Leominster temporary police, said the crime is impossible to track down. He declared his suspicions that the hackers were overseas, probably Europe. As a result, there is very little that the police department can do. Goldman also said he advised Deacon to pay the ransom.
Goldman also pointed out that the ransomware attack does not represent a theft of any data. The school district files were blocked, as was the school’s e-mail system, but no data was actually extracted.
THE GROWING TREND OF RANSOMWARE ATTACKS
This attack is the latest in a series of cyber-attacks related to cryptocurrency that are becoming more popular. In January 2018, Hancock Health in Indiana was hit by a ransomware attack. The hospital was forced to pay $ 55,000 worth of bitcoins to hackers.
Perhaps the most popular Bitcoin ransomware is the variant of WannaCry ransomware. In 2017, it caused serious disruption around the world by attacking IT systems and demanding the redemption of Bitcoin. Victims of the attack included the British NHS and technology companies in Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine and Russia.
Having an updated protection system can help prevent ransomware attacks. In addition, we recommend users to perform regular backups on sites that are not directly connected to their systems.
In the case of a hack, users can restore their systems from backups rather than pay the ransom. However, no system is completely invulnerable to attack.