JeffCo Public Schools Faces Cyber Extortion Threat as Hackers Target Sensitive Data

The hacker group SingularityMD has reportedly threatened JeffCo Public Schools, the second-largest school district in Colorado, with uploading sensitive employee and student information to the dark web unless a $15,000 ransom in cryptocurrency is paid. The Denver Gazette has learned of this cyber extortion plot.

An individual using the alias Anihi Blep criticized the district’s cybersecurity measures, stating in an email to district executives, including Superintendent Tracy Dorland, on Oct. 31, “Your overall approach to cybersecurity is too relaxed.” The hackers sent a copy of this email to hundreds of parents, setting a deadline for compliance by Nov. 7.

As the deadline neared, the hackers reduced the extortion amount to $2,000 in a communication shortly before 4:30 on Nov. 7, expressing impatience with the district’s password-resetting efforts.

It remains unclear whether the district paid the ransom, and district spokesperson Kimberly Eloe Mahugh declined to comment, directing attention to an online statement that was updated earlier in the week.

Law enforcement is actively investigating the cyber attack after JeffCo Public Schools staff received a suspicious email on Oct. 31. The district has been collaborating with cybersecurity experts to assess the attack’s credibility and determine the incident’s scope, as stated in a Nov. 1 release.

The hackers, as revealed in emails obtained by The Denver Gazette, claim to possess a 40 GB dataset, sharing a 1 GB sample that includes staff and student information dating back to 2020. The compromised data reportedly includes staff phone numbers, home addresses, titles, student information such as school email addresses and emergency contacts, and Individualized Education Program (IEP) details containing sensitive health care information.

The hackers assert that the breach is a business transaction rather than politically motivated, emphasizing their view in an Oct. 31 email to JeffCo officials.

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