School computers hacked, shut down

Deputies, FBI investigate
Feb. 15, 2013 @ 06:13 PM

Union County Public Schools' website is down after an attempt to hack into the web server was discovered Thursday evening. 

"They received a communication from someone indicating that they had compromised their system," Chief Deputy Ben Bailey said. The communication was received through e-mail.

"Once they received that notification, they notified law enforcement and they shut down their own system," Bailey said.

The school is currently working with the Union County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to determine if a compromise did occur, the extent of the breach and who hacked into the system.  

The investigation is ongoing and the technology department is working with law enforcement. They are also working to recreate the server. 

"(We) won't bring the website back online until we can do so confident that there's no weakness in the system," Jackson said. In the meantime, there is a temporary website set up on the intranet that teachers and students can access at school. 

They are currently going through all the protocols dealing with information security. 

Superintendent Mary Ellis decided to inform staff Thursday that though they do not know whether personal information was compromised, she wanted to let them know the possibility existed, Jackson said. 

"So they could certainly take steps to monitor their credit information and that sort of thing," he said. 

The system has multiple servers and the one where the attempt was made was the web server. 

"When we re-institute the web server, then absolutely we will have done anything we could to strengthen any weaknesses," Jackson said. 

"We're still kind of in a 'wait-and-see' mode," Jackson said. "(We are) not sure if confidential information was compromised." 

Bailey would not put a time frame on how long the investigation could take. 

"We're dealing with a highly technical and complex subject matter here," Bailey said. "Anytime you deal with a technology case, it does tend to move more slowly than it would a break-in or a's not like you can go out and lift a fingerprint and go to a database." 

Breaking into a government computer system is a Class H felony, subject to prosecution and potentially prison.

The sheriff's office has seen an increase in computer crime over the past two years, Bailey said. 

If anyone has any information on who hacked into the computer system, they can call Union County Crimestoppers at 704-283-5600. Useful information could receive a cash reward and they do not have to give their identity.