Blue Earth Area School District officials acted quickly to thwart hackers efforts to gain control of the district’s schools unless payment was made.
“They said we would need to contact them for the amount, which we did not do,” says Superintendent Mandy Fletcher. “They were attempting to gain a Bitcoin ransom in exchange for giving us back control of the automation system.”
The cyber-security attack occurred in the early morning hours of Thursday, Sept.19, and attempted to impact a device that controls a building automation system.
Fletcher says the security breach was discovered when the district’s head of facilities was conducting routine checks on the system.
The district’s technology team, with the assistance of the building’s automation company, was able to locate where the problem was isolated.
BEA officials contacted local law enforcement as well as technology companies working with the district to make them aware of what happened.
“Fortunately, the automation company was able to send a technician to be on site and replace the old system,”says Fletcher. “After assessing air quality, it was determined it was safe to proceed with the regular school day.”
No private data of staff or students, according to the superintendent, was compromised or exposed during the breach.
Fletcher says BEA is a member of the South Central Service Cooperative, which has started offering districts training and education to help protect themselves against security breaches.