School District’s Computer Network Held for Ransom by Hacker

A school district in New Jersey is dealing with malware that was put into their computer network by hackers demanding 500 bitcoins.

A New Jersey school district’s computer network was still down Tuesday after technicians discovered a ransom message from hackers over the weekend.

The Swedesboro-Woolwich School District was forced to postpone the PARCC exams, which test students’ readiness for graduation, and are still restoring much of the network’s system after school technicians received a message asking for 500 bitcoins, which are an online currency, from hackers Saturday.

The district has four elementary schools in Gloucester County, N.J., and as of Tuesday afternoon faculty was unable to do basic things like email and open Excel spreadsheets, according to The district is receiving help from the Educational Information Resource Center, the Woolwich Township Police, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the FBI and Homeland Security.

Classes have not been cancelled this week, and school officials are praising their teacher’s ability to maintain productive lesson plans despite the challenges. The district has restored some encrypted files and its technicians are in the process of removing traces of the malware from its servers.

500 bitcoins is equivalent to about $124,000. It has not been determined what the charges would be for the perpetrators.


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