City Pays $10K Ransom in Bitcoins to Regain Control of School Computer System

The city of Leominster, Massachusetts, was forced to pay thousands of dollars in ransom to a hacker who took over the school district's computer system.

School officials say their system was victimized by a ransomware attack that locked up computers across the district. The attackers demanded $10,000, which officials paid out of city funds.

"It's a digital world," Leominster Police Chief Michael Goldman said. "The more complicated it gets, the more ways there are to steal your stuff."

Goldman says it's likely that someone sent an email posing as an intern, with the purported link to a resume going to a Trojan file.

"A lock was placed on our system until a negotiated ransom was agreed upon," interim Superintendent Paula Deacon said in a statement. "We paid through a bitcoin system and are now awaiting to be fully restored."

As of Friday, teachers said their email was still not working.

Deacon would not say whether the funds would be reimbursed or replaced, or what specific precautions would be taken to prevent a future attack.

City officials say they once beat a similar hack by keeping clean backups ahead of time.

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