Newtown Among 800 School Sites Attacked By Hackers

Newtown Public School District’s website was hacked Monday morning and a school official said the district’s website was one of 800 across the country attacked by hackers. (Published Monday, Nov. 6, 2017)

Newtown Public School District’s website was hacked Monday morning and a school official said the district’s website was one of 800 across the country attacked by hackers.

Instead of seeing the school website as it was supposed to look Monday, anyone who visited it saw former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and a message written in Arabic that said, “There is no God but God. Mohamad is the profit of God.”

Interim Superintendent, Dr. Lorrie Rodrigue said the website was hacked around 4 a.m.

“It certainly sets you back, even though we don’t see any imminent threat,” Rodrigue said. “It still is a concern for parents, especially here in Newtown with news headlines that just occurred the other day that just makes it even more of a concern.”

A group that calls itself Team System DZ claimed responsibility for the hack. The group was blamed for hacking local government websites across the country over the summer.

The district’s website was back up and running by 7 a.m. Monday, but it was down an hour later at the orders of Interim Superintendent Lorrie Rodrigue.

“I want to make sure we’re confident that this cannot happen again,” she said.

All 800 schools websites that were hacked are run by the same service, “School Desk,” which is based in Georgia.

“The websites are back up and live and our team is working closely with authorities to ensure they are as secure as possible. We’ve reported this and are working with the FBI,” Rob Frierson, owner of School Desk, said.

He said that although the websites are up and running, they are read-only.

Rodrigue said she has no idea who Team System DZ is or why it targeted Newtown or hundreds of other schools in Georgia, Texas, and Louisiana.

“I know that we’re not alone. Other schools are feeling the same way, and I don’t want to make us vulnerable again without some level of assurances that this can’t happen,” Rodrigue said.

Rodrigue also ordered more police presence at the schools and the Newtown police chief was at the high school Monday morning.

“Police will be in and out of schools for the entire day and maybe for the entire week and beyond. We just want to make sure that we can say to parents your students are safe coming to school today,” Rodrigue said. “Just to give an added comfort level.”

Rodrigue said the extra police presence was strictly a reaction to the hacking, but when asked if the district was on edge because of the recent shooting at a Texas church she said, “I think not only Newtown, but all districts are on edge. Communities are on edge with all the headlines out there now, and all the shootings and I think that doesn’t make it easy for parents, and community members, and staff,” she said.

Local police and the FBI are investigating the hack.