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Judson ISD Reportedly Paid More than $500k to Protect Crucial Information

By Noir Sept. 21, 2021, 6:54 a.m.
Judson ISD Reportedly Paid More than $500k to Protect Crucial Information

Judson ISD confirmed it paid $547,045.61 worth of ransom to cybercriminals. The ransom got paid to protect crucial information from getting published. Morever, on the dark web. The information belonged to thousands of students and teachers. The district had no other choice to ensure safety.

Instead, it would have spent the money on the needs of students and employees.
They paid cryptocurrency as ransom in the form of Bitcoin because it is difficult to trace. Taxpayer funds were used to make the payment. The FBI advised against paying the ransom as it only encourages such attacks.

Details about the Judson ISD attack

The attack left the district without WiFi, phones, or emails. Still, it had hotspots for its students in summer school. The district also distributed laptops and cellphones to administrative staff. Besides, the effects of the ransomware attack were far from over. It would take months for the full impact of the cyber attack to be known.
The district hired experts to conduct a forensic investigation. It must also notify parents and guardians of students whose information got breached. As a result, it hired a communications company to do so.
The Judson Independent School District’s annual budget is about $273 million.

Judson ISD's Statement

The Judson ISD remained committed to the resolution of the ransomware attack. The commitment included ensuring the community received accurate information about the ordeal.
They confirmed the amount of ransom paid to protect their information. Otherwise, the information would have been sold in the black market. Mostly, the infamous dark market.
They understood that many questions still needed answers about the disruption. And they now work tirelessly and also remain focused on welcoming people back to schools.
Finally, the district appreciated patience and understanding as they completed their investigation.

Action Taken to Protect Crucial Information

The Broward County School District also got hit by hackers that demanded $40 million. The district refused to pay that amount. Following that, hackers published about 26,000 stolen files.
During the ongoing pandemic, K-12 schools learned valuable lessons about protecting themselves. To help, lawmakers propose new funding.
Soon, the House Homeland Security Committee is going to introduce bipartisan legislation. It would provide $500 million annually to governments to protect against cybercriminal attacks.
Jonathan King said that agencies should always prepare backup data. This way, they can refuse to pay the ransom demanded by cybercriminals.
“An organization can look to see if they do have data backups and restore from backups. And if they don’t have backups, they can rebuild their system manually and hope to rebuild stronger,” Jonathan said.
There is a concept of having inline backups that are quick to restore. The backups can take place weekly or daily, whatever is appropriate. Without backups, agencies will have to pay the ransom or rebuild their system afresh.
Cybercriminals target more district schools and threatening to leak their crucial information. Districts can fall prey if they don’t update their software regularly. Also, employees should always take caution about clicking suspicious links. They might click on uploaded ransomware.

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