Broward County Public Schools hit with $40 million ransom for student, teacher information

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Hackers have demanded Broward County Public Schools pay a ransom to prevent the release of personal information belonging to teachers and students, according to a published report.

The Sun-Sentinel reported that hackers demanded the district pay a $40 million ransom on March 12.

District officials said no information was breached due to the ransom request — what the district calls a “service disruption” — and are confident they caught it in time.

The district released a statement on Wednesday night that read, “Upon learning of this incident, BCPS secured its network and commenced an internal investigation. A cyber security firm was engaged to assist. BCPS is approaching this incident with the utmost seriousness and is focused on securely restoring the affected systems as soon as possible, as well as enhancing the security of its systems.”

LMG Solutions CEO Leeor Geva, whose South Florida consulting firm helps businesses navigate safety and the internet, said everyone is susceptible to cyberattacks.

“I think that hackers these days are not necessarily targeting school districts,” Geva said. “They’re probably targeting anyone that they can get access to.”

Miami-Dade County Public Schools was hit by attacks at the beginning of the school year, when all classes were held virtually.

According to Miami-Dade Schools Police, 16-year-old David Oliveros, a former student at South Miami Senior High School, admitted responsibility to eight separate cyberattacks.

Experts said schools, businesses and individuals can become a victim, and the best way to protect themselves is to activate two-factor authentication.

“That’s you use your username and password. Then, it sends you a code to your phone — that’s the second factor. That’s two-factor,” Geva said.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.