Officials in the city of New Haven, Connecticut say more than $6 million was stolen from the public school system in multiple cyberattacks earlier this summer
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The city of New Haven lost more than $6 million in multiple cyberattacks on its public school district earlier this summer and has so far recovered about half of the money, officials announced Thursday. .
The thefts, which occurred in June and involved hackers impersonating city executives and private vendors in emails, came to light after a Connecticut school bus company booked questions about why they have not been paid.
“The individual or individuals who did this are criminals. It’s unethical for them to not only steal money from the public, but also steal money from New Haven public school students,” Mayor Justin Elicker, a Democrat, said at a news conference.
Elicker said the FBI asked New Haven officials initially not to speak publicly about the hack to protect their investigation. To date, $3.6 million has been recovered and the FBI has frozen the additional funds, he said. Elicker could not provide a specific amount because the poll is ongoing. No arrest warrants have been issued.
Elicker said cyber-thieves gained access to the COO’s public school email address in May, monitored online conversations with vendors, and eventually inserted themselves into the conversations by impersonate COOs and vendors. The thieves then requested to transfer the cryptocurrency to the scam accounts. A total of six payments were made, including four to the school bus company totaling more than $5.9 million.
The remaining two payments go to a law firm. Elicker said Saturday’s payment to a cleaning company was blocked by the city’s budget office. The FBI refers to the type of ruse used in the cyberattack as “business email compromise”.
Elicker said the city has stopped all electronic payments except payroll and is working with several companies to strengthen its system. An employee in the city’s law office has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
“We do not believe any city employees were involved in the hack,” he said. “However, we want to ensure that all employees are following appropriate financial and cybersecurity procedures.”