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March 25, 2015

Cyberattackers demand ransom from Gloucester County school district

A cyberattack on a Gloucester County school district's network interrupted two days of testing, the Courier-Post reported Wednesday.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a controversial statewide Web-based test, is expected to resume Wednesday at all four district elementary schools after a ransomware program held the Swedesboro-Woolwich School District's computer network hostage. 

In exchange, the cyberattackers demanded 500 bitcoins, a hard-to-trace digital currency.

According to Superintendent Terry Van Zoeren, no personal information or other critical data was compromised, and the school district has been advised not to pay the ransom.

There's no guarantee the 500 bitcoins — worth about $125,000 — would unlock the system, according to technology expert David Suleski, owner of Cherry Hill-based TechStarters. There's a slim chance they're working with honorable terrorists, Suleski said, noting more than 95 percent of ransomware attacks originate outside of the United States.

The network hijacking is under investigation by the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office and the New Jersey State Police.

Read the full story from the Courier-Post.