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US School District Paralyzed By 500 BTC Ransomware Attack

(@mpmcsweeney) | Published on March 24, 2015 at 22:31 BST

A bitcoin ransomware attack on a New Jersey school district has grown into an investigation involving multiple US government agencies.

The Swedesboro-Woolwich School District, which encompasses four elementary schools in Gloucester County, New Jersey, was forced to delay a statewide standardized test earlier this week after the ransomware was discovered over the weekend.

As reported by local news source the South Jersey Times, hackers behind the attack have demanded 500 BTC, worth roughly $125,000 at press time.

Investigators from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are now looking into the matter in conjunction with local and state law enforcement agencies. The school district said a number of computer systems, including point-of-sale terminals and email access, have been impacted.

Superintendent Terry Van Zoren reported that the ransomware had brought tech activities to a halt, telling the news source:

"There's basically no tech service happening in Swedesboro-Woolwich right now. Essentially our network has been taken over and has been made non-operational."

The school district said that it planned to work around the issue by rebuilding the computer network, adding that it expected to complete the process by 24th March. As of Tuesday afternoon the situation was still unresolved.

CoinDesk reached out to the school district for further comment, but did not receive an immediate reply.

Computer virus visualization via Shutterstock


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