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Hacking Causes School Closures

by Brent Kirkpatrick

(Date Published: .)

Thedarkoverlord, TDO, hacked and extorted a school in Columbia Falls, MT resulting in the closure of dozens of schools.

On a typical fall day in September, the Columbia Falls school district received a ransom letter by email from hackers. The students and administrators had already been harassed by threats of physical violence. The hackers, calling themselves thedarkoverloard (TDO), were located outside of the United States.

The hackers had conducted cyberespionage on the computer networks of the school district and had obtained personal information of students and teachers. They threatened to release personal information, they threatened a school shooting, and they demanded extortion payment.

school zone speed limit
Taken by Lan56 on 29 September 2004 at around 3:30 PM PST.

The hackers demanded $150,000 USD payment in bitcon to destroy the stolen personal information. Their ransom letter mentioned Sandy Hook. The threats turned out not to be real, and were simply an extortion scheme.

Schools in Texas have also received extortion requests and schools in Georgia, and California have been hit by cyberattack. Schools that have had rapid expansion of their Internet-enabled technologies are particularly vulnerable to cyberattack. Some schools have added technologies faster than cyber-defenses.

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Selena Larson. "Hackers are targeting schools, U.S. Department of Education warns." CNN. Oct. 18, 2017.

Tawnell D. Hobbs. "Hackers target schools." The Wall Street Journal. Oct. 24, 2017.

"Sheriff's department releases ransom letter related to cyber threats." KTVH. Sept. 18, 2017.

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