In what appears to be the largest education breach in the last couple of years, a large amount of student data has been released by a group of hackers that infiltrated a school system last month.
The hacking group named Vice Society claimed responsibility for the ransomware attack on Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), which resulted in the bad actors gaining access to emails, computer systems, applications, and more. Reports indicate that hundreds of gigabytes of student data was stolen and that the hacker group demanded an undisclosed amount of money for the return of the data. Unfortunately, as expected by U.S. authorities, the data was released online as the October 4 deadline was not met.
According to Tech Crunch, the stolen data was posted to Vice Society's dark website and contains extremely sensitive data on students, such as personal identification information, passport details, Social Security numbers, and tax documents. Additionally, the half a terabyte of leaked sensitive information also contains confidential information in the form of documents, contracts, health information on students/staff, COVID-19 test data, conviction reports, and psychological assessments on students.
Tech Crunch managed to get into contact with the hacking group, with Vice Society saying to the publication that it released the sensitive information a day early because the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a government agency responding to the hack, "wasted our time". Furthermore, Vice Society said that CISA was "wrong" to advise the Los Angeles Unified School District to refuse to pay the ransom as it just encourages groups such as Vice Society to attempt more hacks in hopes of ransom being paid.
The news was confirmed by LAUSD superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho on Twitter, where he thanked all that are involved in the hack for "doing their part in the ongoing recovery". Notably, Carvalho's tweet mentions a new hotline that has been set up, which will assist those affected by the hack and answer any questions regarding its impact.
The LAUSD is the second largest school district in the United States as it contains more than 1,000 schools and 600,000+ students. If you are interested in reading more on this story, check out this link here.