FBI investigating computer hacking at Wolcott Public Schools

New Haven

WOLCOTT, Conn. (WTNH) — The FBI is now involved in the investigation into the hacking of computer files in the Wolcott Public School District.

Wolcott Police Chief Edward Stephens tells News 8 he got the agency involved Thursday. The district didn’t notify Chief Stephens of the hack until months after it occurred.

It happened at the end of the last year school year, on June 13th. Chief Stephens didn’t find out until Wednesday.

“We would’ve been ahead of the game here we wouldn’t be trying to play catch up,” Chief Stephens said.

Instead of calling the Wolcott Police Department, Chief Stephens says the district contacted the Connecticut Intelligence Center. He says he isn’t able to elaborate on the investigation but, he now feels it’s moving in the right direction. 

He also says he wants to clear up misinformation that’s gotten out around town; He says the district has not paid any ransomware to whoever crippled the computer files.

In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, the Superintendent of Wolcott Public Schools, Dr. Anthony Gasper said:

“The Board members discussed the potential benefits and risks of paying the ransom with a particular understanding of and desire to support our teachers and children in whatever way is prudent. The Board made and passed a motion authorizing me to spend up to the amount allowed by the Town Charter without a bidding process on the ransom and to do so while spending the least amount possible.  As of today, no ransom has yet been paid. We continue to communicate and work with state and local authorities on this matter. We take seriously our fiscal responsibility in utilizing taxpayers’ dollars but we must also balance this against helping our teachers deliver the best-possible education to Wolcott’s children. The Board of Education and I thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.”

Superintendent of Wolcott Public Schools, Dr. Anthony Gasper

Frank Kondor, who works for Omni Data, LLC, a computer security business in West Haven, tells News 8 hacking like what the Wolcott Public Schools is experiencing happens often. He also says paying the hackers doesn’t guarantee the problem would be over.

“Well, you got paid once, why wouldn’t you just do it again?” he said.
Kondor showed News 8 a computer file that tracks hack attempts across the country in real time.

“It’s become real common of late. There’s a lot of ways the hackers have come up with methods to do these types of attacks,” he said. “Whether they do it via an email, or do it via a web link, people will unsuspectingly just click on something take them to a website, it’ll download some software in their machine.”

Dr. Gasper says there has been no breach or loss of any private student, staff, or financial data.

Chief Stephens says the district has now been able to retrieve some of its files for the middle and high schools and the district’s central offices. However, they still can’t access files for the elementary schools. 

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