Hackers Demand $40M in Ransom From Florida School District

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District officials say they have no intention of paying the ransom

Hackers left district leaders stunned when they broke into systems belonging to Broward County Public Schools and encrypted district data in a recent ransomware attack.

The criminals attempted to collect a $40 million ransom and threatened to erase files and post students’ and employees’ personal information online if the money was not paid.

Officials with Broward County Public, one of the nation’s largest school districts, said in a statement that initial investigations find no indication that any personal information was stolen.

During several days of communications, which were captured in a transcript obtained by the Sun Sentinel, a district official tries to negotiate a lower price for the ransom and explains the district does not have access to enough funds to pay the exorbitant fee requested by the attackers. The district offered to pay $500,000, but negotiations broke down soon after.

The district says it is working with experts to investigate the incident and remediate affected systems. Officials have no plans to pay the ransom now.

Other public school districts have also been victims of ransomware attacks in recent years. Disctricts in Baltimore County, Md.; Fairfax County, Va.; Hartford, Conn.; and Fort Worth, Texas, all reported being hit in the last year. 

More details on the attack can be found here.

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