The long tentacles of terrorism reached into Iberia and St. Martin parishes this past week when a pro-Islamic State group hacked school board website in both parishes early Monday.
As unnerving as it was, there were no serious consequences in the aftermath, according to local officials. The hacker group, known as Team System DZ, was unable to break through the firewall of the systems.
The shocking discovery was reported to Iberia Parish Schools Superintendent Dale Henderson at approximately 3:30 a.m. Monday by the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office. The home page of the Iberia Parish School Board’s website had been defaced, he was told.
Hackers redesigned the sites after getting into SchoolDesk, a Georgia-based provider used by both school systems. The hack left a picture of Sadaam Hussein and the message, ‘There is no God but God. Mohammad is the prophet of God,” followed by a series of question marks.
Iberia and St. Martin parishes were just two of more than 800 school board sites hacked, according to news reports.
Technicians for both systems repaired the home pages as quickly as possible.
“By 6:30 this morning everything was done and restored,” Henderson told The Daily Iberian on Monday. “There was no breach of personal information, which is always the first thing you worry about when there’s a hack.”
St. Martin Superintendent of Schools Lottie Beebe said she was informed by the IPSO at 4:30 a.m. and the website was cleansed and up and running before 7 a.m.
“I’ve been reassured by our computer technicians that the hackers didn’t obtain any impact student information or any personal information,” Beebe said Monday.
Team System DZ claimed responsibility for hacking state government websites earlier this year in Ohio, Maryland and New York, as well as some federal websites. Some of verbiage in those instances included threats to President Donald Trump and supported IS.
After the latest breach, SchoolDesk ordered all affected users to reset their passwords. The company is cooperating with local, state and federal law enforcement officials to track down the source of the hacks.
That something like this happened further increases any feelings of vulnerability. Thankfully, as far as we know, the negative impact was kept at a minimum.
It is a reminder to all of us to be vigilant.