SAN ANTONIO – Judson ISD has finally confirmed it paid $547,045.61 to the cyberthieves who stole personal information belonging to thousands of teachers and students last June.
The payment later that month was made using taxpayer funds.
In a statement Wednesday, the district said, “While these are funds that we would have rather spent on the needs of our employees, students and their families, there was no other choice for the district to ensure your safety – our number one priority.”
The district said it was done “to protect sensitive, identifiable information from being published.”
The ransomware attack also left the district without phones, emails or WiFi, but it still had hotspots for its students in summer school.
Gregory White said that, as a taxpayer and a cybersecurity expert, “I’d rather use that money to prevent these kind of things from happening or at least a portion of that money.”
White, the director the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, said the half-million dollar ransom payment won’t stop the thieves.
“The fact that they were successful in this case just encourages them to do it again,” White said.
Even if the district had not paid, he said there was the cost of identity protection for those affected, which could have been just as expensive.
Read the district’s entire statement below:
“All of us at Judson ISD remain committed to the successful resolution of the ransomware attack on our information technology systems. Part of this commitment includes ensuring our community receives timely, accurate and transparent information about this incident. At this time, we can now confirm that Judson ISD made a ransom payment in the amount of $547,045.61 in order to protect sensitive, identifiable information from being published. While these are funds that we would have rather spent on the needs of our employees, students and their families, there was no other choice for the district to ensure your safety – our number one priority. We understand there are still many questions about this disruption that need to be answered, and we are working around the clock while remaining focused on welcoming everyone back to schools this fall. Your patience and understanding as we complete the final steps in our investigation is greatly appreciated.”
Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.