Cyber hackers threaten Bedford school, demanding '£500k or else'

It vows to post bank details and medical records unless ransom demands are met

Hive Ransomware Group has hacked Wootton Upper School and threatened to post sensitive data unless the school pays out £500,000.

In a message to students and parents, the cyber hackers claim to have infiltrated Wootton networks a number of weeks ago and “managed to encrypt all of Wootton organisation servers”, including Kimberley College.

The Hive Ransomware Group went on to say it had managed to exfiltrate sensitive data such as home addresses, bank details, medical records and students’ psychological reviews – and plans to leak it UNLESS the school meets its ransom demands.

Wootton Upper School

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The post said: “We are very well informed and precise in our operations, so we know that Wootton have cyber insurance that reaches £500k.”

And it added: “If Wootton management decide to move on with their plan and refuse to negotiate, we are going to release all of the stolen data online for everyone to see.

"All of your child's private information will be online for everyone and for free.

Hive Ransomware Group has hacked Wootton Upper School

"What's even more dangerous is that every single hacker will receive all of your personal identification information. You can imagine thousands of ruthless hackers coming after you and your children for some profit.”

Bedford Today contacted the school for comment but it was closed for the summer holidays.

However, in a detailed post on its website, executive principal Michael Gleeson, said: “I can now confirm that the trust suffered a cyber incident and we are now in the process of putting in place a plan that will enable our IT system to be re-built. We are aiming to get everything back up and running as quickly as we can.”

He added: “Since identifying the issue, we have engaged specialist third-party experts, with the assistance of our insurer to assist with minimising disruption.

"It is not possible to put a precise timeline on how long it will take to rebuild the system.

"External specialists suggest that seven to 10 working days is the best estimate. A priority of the investigation will also be understanding precisely what data may have been impacted.

Mr Gleeson also said as this type of incident has been linked to criminal groups, it has reported the breach to police as well as the Department for Education and the council.

He also confirmed the rebuild will not impact the issuing of examination results in August.

Mr Gleeson added: “We are taking this incident very seriously and have launched a full investigation.

"We have been advised by our external advisors that in these types of incidents it is possible that the group responsible may have attempted to take some data from our systems and they are working to understand whether that may have happened here as a priority.”

If you are a concerned parent, call 07761 236684. The phone will be answered between today (Wednesday) and Friday (July 29) from 10am to 4pm.

A Bedfordshire Police spokesperson said: “We have received reports that Wootton Academy Trust has been subject to a potential cyber attack and we are currently working with the trust to establish what has taken place.

“Anyone with information is ask to call 101 or visit our website and quote reference 521 of 26 July.”