Leominster pays Bitcoin ransom to unlock school computers after cyberattack

LEOMINSTER, MASS. (WHDH) - Leominster Public Schools fell victim to a cyberattack earlier this month and paid a ransom in Bitcoin to unknown cyberextortionists to regain control of computer systems across the district, officials said.

The attack on April 14 placed a lock on the district’s computer systems, impacting administrators, faculty, and students, according to a statement from Interim Superintendent of Schools Paula Deacon. Deacon said the extortionists would not lift the lock until a “negotiated ransom was agreed upon.”

“I did make the recommendation that they pay,” Police Chief Michael Goldman said. “It’s either that, or you’re going to lose your data and you’ll have to rebuild your IT infrastructure from scratch.”

The ransomware attack is untraceable and unsolvable due to the use of virtual private networks and multiple false accounts, Goldman explained.

A ransom of $10,000 was paid in Bitcoin on April 20. As of Friday, the computer system had not yet been fully restored.

In an email to parents, Deacon  said, “We are well on our way to having access to our email and other systems restored.”

Goldman called the incident “distressing” and urged business to invest in strong backup systems.