Hackers Targeting Public School and University Payroll Accounts

skullpayrollGangs of cyber criminals who have been attacking big business have now set their sights on public schools and colleges.  On October 17th, hackers broke into the Stanford school district and initiated fake money transfers from the schools payroll accounts. The thieves kept the amounts below $10,000 in order to avoid detection by the banks. By the time the staff caught on two days later they had already lost $177,000.

Stanford was not the only school to report thefts like this. The Sand Springs, Oklahoma school district has also been attacked,  as well as Marian University, a Catholic university in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Each establishment had close to $200,000 stolen from it. All three schools were able to detect the fraudulent transfers soon enough to reverse some of the damage, however the only school able to have its losses completely recovered was Sand Springs.

The banks stated that the individual school districts are the ones to blame here for not initially spotting the fraudulent transfers.  The banks have defended themselves by explaining that clients generally have 60 days after receiving their monthly statement to report any errors.

In Sand Springs, Superintendent Lloyd Snow said, “In our business, we’re about teaching and learning, and in some cases we get lessons where we’re the ones who need to learn a thing or two. This is one of those cases.”

With school funds being stolen, it means more tax payers dollars are being wasted while education systems lose the money they so desperately need to buy things such as school buses, books, and playgrounds for the children. Worse, during a recession like this one, there is generally no extra money to spare in most institutions.  To combat these hackers, schools have begun using stronger computer security systems in order to help protect themselves. Hopefully after these few harsh attacks the school systems have learned their lesson.

(Via The Washington Post)

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