The Los Angeles Unified School District has launched a hotline for concerned parents and students following the digital theft of confidential records and files from the district’s computer systems earlier this month.
The data cache was leaked on Saturday, one day after Supt. Alberto Carvalho said he would not negotiate with hackers or pay them ransoms. In a tweet confirm the leak Carvalho shared the hotline number on Sunday morning.
“Thank you to our students, families and staff who have played their part in the ongoing recovery from this cyberattack,” Carvalho wrote. “We have set up a hotline starting tomorrow morning at 6:00 a.m. PT. This hotline will help those in our school communities who have questions or need additional support.”
The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at (855) 926-1129.
According to the City News Service, media outlets on Monday morning reported long waits for callers trying to use the hotline.
LAUSD spokeswoman Shannon Haber said county officials were not immediately available for comment Monday.
Taking to social media on Monday, Carvalho defended the district’s decision not to pay the hackers.
“I understand there will be many opinions on this matter, but simply put, negotiating with cybercriminals trying to extort tuition fees from our children, teachers and staff will never be a viable option,” Carvalho tweeted. “LAUSD refuses to pay ransom.”
The published screenshots of the data leak reviewed by The Times appeared to show some social security numbers. The Vice Society hacker group responsible for the ransomware attack claimed it stole 500GB of data and was demanding an unspecified ransom by Monday, which Carvalho and the county refused to pay.
In a statement, the district said it “remains committed that dollars must be used to fund students and education.”
“Paying a ransom never guarantees full data recovery, and Los Angeles Unified believes public money is better spent on our students than surrendering to a nefarious and illegal crime syndicate,” the statement said.
The criminal syndicate released the stolen data to the dark web two days before its own deadline, after Carvalho made it clear that the district would not pay a ransom.
The incident is being investigated by federal and local agencies, including the Los Angeles Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-03/hackers-cyberattack-los-angeles-unified-school-district-hotline-parents-staff-vice-society After hackers in cyberattack release data, LAUSD sets up hotline