School District Paid $10,000 In Bitcoin Ransomware Attack

The Leominster Public Schools District has recently been exposed to a Bitcoin ransomware cyberattack. The school district paid the hackers a ransom of $10,000 in Bitcoin to have their systems unlocked.

Cyberattack Details

On April 14th, the hackers infiltrated into the computer system of the Leominster Public Schools District in Massachusetts and took it down. According to the school district’s superintendent Paula Deacon, a computer system was locked and a ransom was demanded to reinstate access. In the meantime, the cyber attackers specified that the ransom payment be effectuated in Bitcoin.

The negotiations between the school district and the hackers involved sending decryption keys so that they could unlock some of the hacked files as a show of proof. Dean Mazzarella, the mayor of Leominster, said that the culprits were “smart.” He went on to say that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was trying to trace the attackers. According to the mayor, the $10,000 ransom will be subtracted from the city’s general fund.

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 somehow or another.” added Mazzarella.

Bitcoin Ransomware Impossible to track

The interim Leominster Police Chief, Michael Goldman, said that bitcoin ransomware is almost impossible to track. He believed that the cybercriminals were from overseas, probably Europe. Because of this, there is very little that the police department can actually do regarding the matter. Goldman also advised Deacon to pay the ransom.

Goldman noted that the ransomware attack is not considered a data theft case. The school district’s files, as well as the school’s email system, were locked, but no data was actually stolen.

Number of Cryptocurrency Ransomware Attacks Increasing

This attack comes after a string of cryptocurrency-related cyber-attacks that becoming more and more widespread. In January 2018, Hancock Health in Indiana was hit with a ransomware attacking which the hackers demanded a $55,000 worth of Bitcoin. Perhaps the most popular Bitcoin ransomware is the WannaCry ransomware which attacked computer systems from all over the world and demanded Bitcoin as ransom. Among the victims were: the U.K. NHS and tech companies from Spain, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Russia.

Ransomware attacks can be prevented by constantly updating your malware protection system. Also, users are also urged to back up regularly on sites that are not linked to their systems directly. In the eventuality of a hack, users can bring back their systems from the backups instead of paying the ransom. Nevertheless, there is no system that can withstand all cyber-attacks.

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