America’s Second-Largest School District Hit By Cyber Attack

The LA Unified School District suffered a massive cyberattack over the weekend, but little is no about what information was exposed.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Cyberattacks targeting schools have significantly increased over the last few years. It’s becoming a major concern to many, as vulnerable students are exposed to data breaches that could possibly affect them down the road. A new school year has barely begun across America, and already, the nation’s second-largest school district is feeling the effects of hackers and their abilities, as the Los Angeles Unified School District reportedly just suffered from a ransomware attack.

According to The Associated Press, the district was made aware that their school software, which houses sensitive information on more than 600,000 students and staffers, was breached in a cyberattack. Apparently, the situation is so serious, that it prompted talks between school officials, the White House, and the National Security Council. Since occurring, the entire district has been mandated to update passwords.

The cyberattack shut down the LA district’s computer systems entirely. Typically, similar ransomware attacks do this and request money in exchange for the hackers to unlock their breaching software from its grips. However, this time, there was no demand for payment, which boards ominous to experts studying these types of online breaches.

Nick Melvoin, the vice president of the Los Angeles Unified school board called the cyberattack an “act of cowardice.” Often, these types of data breaches don’t expose financial information, but instead simply information privy to families about their young children. But still, these ransomware attacks are targeting schools at alarming rates, showing just how vulnerable student data in America is.

The district and those involved with the cyberattack have released little information on exactly what information was stolen, and the intent behind the hacker’s actions. Additionally, they did not release information regarding what type of ransomware the hacker used. What is known, is that the origination of the security breaches is believed to have been shelled out internationally, and three countries are suspected to be the originating location. 

Throughout this year, at least 26 schools and 24 colleges across America have succumbed to cyberattacks. Given the severity and magnitude of past breaches including one last year that exposed students’ data in NYC – the nation’s largest school district, schools feel an urgency to increase security to their online data. Many of the recent hacks happened within weeks of schools coming back from summer break in a move that experts fear was done so on purpose.

The Los Angeles Police chief referred to cyberattacks as an “invisible foe” when discussing just how severe the situation can be. Vice Society, a criminal syndicate group notorious for targeting schools is one suspect in the LA cyberattack. However, there is no information yet on whether or not authorities have discovered a connection to the ransomware group or not.


As cyberattacks grow more prevalent in school settings, so does their severity. The district fears that if they had not discovered the ransomware so quickly on Saturday night, its repercussions could have been far worse. Schools were able to open up Tuesday, but that may not have been the case if things got worse. Now, the district planned a forensic audit in response to find ways to bolster their online security.