ALTOONA, Pa (WTAJ)–The Altoona Area School Superintendent released new details into the cyber security attack within the school system.
This hack originally happened at the beginning of December. Altoona Area School District Superintendent Dr. Charles Prijatelj said they were informed about the hack when an employee received notification about compromised credit information.
Prijatelj noted that they took immediate action; however, they had to do a full diagnostic to see the full extent of the hack. The school has been working with the cyber security company Arete to do the investigation.
After doing a thorough search, it was determined that about 150 GBS of data was obtained. They then proceeded to undergo negotiations with the hacker for multiple weeks. In the end, the school avoided paying the ransom and learned how much was purchased.
“At the end of that negotiation, when we did not pay ransom,” Prijatelj said. “They announced to us and actually gave us a URL code to see where they posted, and they posted 10GB on the dark web.”
He said the hacker did not get far before the system locked them out completely. Prijatelj specified that the hacker could access the “S” Drive, which he called a junk storage place to store new and decades-old working files. Then, there were able to get access to certain healthcare information.
“What they did get access to was our S Drive,” Prijatelj said. “The S Drive is called the S Drive cause it’s our working sandbox. They basically got into our working healthcare files, health insurance files, so they had access to that information which included SSN, names, addresses, dates of birth.”
The hacker only could access student birthdates, which can not be monetized. However, it is unclear which data has been leaked on the dark web.
The district is now taking extra safety precautions for its employees to prevent the incident from happening again. They are now advising their employees to sign up for fraud alerts for the social security number. Then, they’re also recommending that they do dual verification with their credit card information.
“We’re doing everything to protect our employees, and the self-interest of our employees has been on the forefront of the situation,” Prijatelj said.
Within the next few weeks, employees will receive new medical ID cards. Prijatelj said that the last step of the investigation is to inform those employees who had their data compromised. Those employees will then receive two years of credit monitoring.
“We have a lot of flexibility. We have a lot of convenience, and with that convenience comes exposure,” Prijatelj said. “So we need to take the necessary precautions. So hopefully, this incident will help people understand what they can do and how they can handle this situation if it happens to them.”
Parents and Faculty were sent a letter about the state of the investigation this afternoon.