Massachusetts School System Hackers Demand, and Receive, $10K Bitcoin Ransom

May 7, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

One of the biggest problems in getting cryptocurrency to go mainstream is that there are a lot of people out there who think that cryptocurrency is just for scam artists and criminals who want to quietly buy drugs and guns. Or worse. Recent word out of Leominster Public Schools in Massachusetts, meanwhile, won’t help that perception a whit as the school system forked over a $10,000 ransom payment, in bitcoin, to hackers who took data from the school system.

Reports noted that the district’s systems had been hit with the WannaCry attack back in April, and the district not only lacked the systems required to fend off WannaCry, it also lacked a clean offsite backup of its data that would have been required for a systemwide purge. Thus left with no other real option, it ponied up the $10,000—about 1.06 bitcoin as of this writing—in bitcoin the hackers demanded.

Some have even suggested that cryptocurrency has made it easier for hackers to get paid to carry out such attacks, and that’s why more of them are being seen. They’re not out of line in saying that, of course, but it’s almost like saying that guns make it easier to rob banks. Sure they do, but that’s not their only purpose. If people get to focusing too hard on that, they’ll ignore all the other good things that can be done with such a tool.

In fact, some here might question why the hackers wanted bitcoin as opposed to a faster coin like Ripple or Litecoin. Bitcoin has increasingly shown itself to be slower to work with, and thus many hackers moved away from it. Maybe the attack was staged by kids who didn’t know better, or maybe these hackers had an ideological preference for bitcoin. Either way, it doesn’t help the cryptocurrency market any, which is struggling to find legitimacy in In the end, there’s a lot to take away from this event. Offsite backups are vital, a hacker’s demand for bitcoin is kind of odd, and cryptocurrency is about more than just ransom fodder. There is plenty we can all learn about cryptocurrency, and this latest event just proves as much.