By Walt Hunter
WOOLWICH, N.J. (CBS) — The FBI, New Jersey State Police, county and local investigators are on the trail of hackers who hijacked a Gloucester County school’s district’s computer network, demanding a ransom payment to make it usable again.
The Superintendent of the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District says the unidentified hackers are demanding a payment of 500 bitcoins, the equivalent of $128,000, to return the computer system to working condition.
Dr. Terry C. Van Zoeren says the hackers have caused major inconvenience for teachers, students and parents. Without working computers, teachers cannot take attendance, access phone numbers or records, and students cannot purchase food in cafeterias.
Also, he explained, parents cannot receive emails with students grades and other information.
The four elementary schools affected serve more than 1,700 students.
Fortunately the Superintendent told CBS 3’s Walt Hunter the hackers, using a program called Ransomware, did not access any personal information about students, families or teachers.
The Superintendent says, without Smartboards, students Monday used pens, pencils and papers, going back to, what he described, “education as it was 20 or 30 years ago.”
For now, there’s no comment from law enforcement on the motive behind the hackers’ cyber attack.
Superintendent Van Zoeren says the district is gradually restoring the network, but it’s expected to be a few more days before it’s functioning normally.