NJ.com reports that four schools within the Swedesboro-Woolwich district were forced to suspend PARCC examinations last week after ransomware infected numerous computers at each school. Mistaking the shotgun approach as taken by ransomware authors for that of a targeted attack on the school by hackers, tech support for the district schools opted to work throughout the weekend so as to restore services and avoid paying a $500 ransom made payable in bitcoin.
While malware, ransomware and viruses have long been a problem, that a ransom may now be extorted and easily collected from police stations ensures the trend will continue to grow. Opting to learn through personal experience rather than observing the problems faced by schools such as those in the Swedesboro-Woolwich district and applying an antidote, some countries such as Australia mandate that their students use Microsoft products, forbidding any alternatives on student owned hardware. Such mandates ensure students who complete set work always risk losing it while students apt to claim the dog ate their homework have a new avenue of excuses to explore.
Update – NJ.com now reports that the ransom is for a total of 500 BTC and not $500 as previously stated. Assuming the ransom is for $500 per infected computer, this works out to approximately 250 computers which were held to ransom.