Think ransoms are only paid out to rescue victims of kidnappings? Think again.
Imagine walking into your office one morning and finding some (or all) of your district’s computer files “padlocked” and inaccessible. In the corner, a masked man is standing with his hand out, demanding an $8,000-$10,000 ransom payment. When he gets the money, he’ll hand over the key to the padlock. If you choose not to pay, then you’ll spend the next few months trying to pick the lock while teachers, students, and administrators are forced to work without their modern technology.
This is essentially what happened to Horry County Schools (HCS) of Conway, S.C., earlier this year. Using a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid (aka, “ransomware”), on February 8 hackers used high-level encryption to lock up the district’s data. The criminals then held that data for ransom and demanded the district pay nearly $10,000 via Bitcoin for the encryption key.
Charles Hucks, executive director of technology, says the district had experienced a few breaches during the months leading up to the attack, but nothing of this magnitude. “A few devices of teachers were hit and some of their local files were encrypted,” says Hucks. “In some cases network-based files on individual directories were also encrypted, but the impact of those attacks was very limited. They were isolated incidents.”…Read More