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Hackers Target Sag Harbor School District

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 11:24

An issue affecting many school districts and municipalities across the country hit home on Monday when hackers hijacked the Sag Harbor School District’s computer system.

In an email announcement Monday afternoon, Katy Graves, the superintendent, said the cyberattack “has temporarily disabled our server and computer systems.”

No records or data were lost, she said, as the district had its information securely backed up. She called upon the New York State Office of Information Technology for help; a private contractor, Core BTS, a national company with a Long Island office in Hauppauge, is also assisting the district.

“We are working to determine if any confidential information has been compromised,” Ms. Graves said in her email. “We will provide updated information as soon as it is available.” The school had no further details by press time.

In September, when asked about the district’s cybersecurity, Scott Fisher, the technology director, said Sag Harbor “takes cybersecurity threats very seriously and has many hardware and software tools in place to combat various cybersecurity threats. We regularly evaluate potential threats and update our security measures in response to the threats.”

In light of this week’s incident, the East Hampton School Board, meeting on Tuesday, weighed a suggestion by Isabel Madison, assistant superintendent for business, to boost the amount of cybersecurity insurance East Hampton carries. The members and administration agreed that the suggestion was worth exploring.

“It was a recommendation of the auditors, and I think we should follow it,” said Ms. Madison, who recently returned to the district after Jerel Cokley resigned unexpectedly in October.

School districts in Rockville Centre and Mineola were victims of internet hijackers in August. Last year, the East Hampton School District dealt with four instances of phishing, which is an attack initiated through scam emails that impersonate actual people. In 2017, the Montauk School’s computer system was held hostage for $900, which the hackers wanted in Bitcoin. Montauk paid the ransom.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the amount the Montauk School paid by describing its Bitcoin value. 


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