Vice Society Releases Info Stolen From 14 UK Schools, Including Passport Scans

In what's become a pattern, the cybercriminal ring stole data, demanded payment, and posted personal information when ransom was denied.

2 Min Read
Closeup photo of hands: a white man in a blue sweater gives the new navy blue UK passport to another person
Source: Maksims via Adobe Stock

Another month, another release of personal information stolen from a school system. This time, it's a group of 14 schools in the United Kingdom.

Once again, the perpetrator appears to be Vice Society, which is well known for targeting educational systems in the US. As the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) pointed out in a bulletin from Sept. 6, "K-12 institutions may be seen as particularly lucrative targets due to the amount of sensitive student data accessible through school systems or their managed service providers."

The UK hack may have turned up even more confidential information than the Los Angeles school system breach last year. As the BBC reported on Jan. 6, "One folder marked 'passports' contains passport scans for pupils and parents on school trips going back to 2011, whereas another marked 'contract' contains contractual offers made to staff alongside teaching documents on muscle contractions."

Some prominent school cyberattacks in the US include public school districts in Chicago, Baltimore, and Los Angeles. A new study from digital learning platform Clever claims that one in four schools experienced a cyber-incident over the past year, and according to a new report from security software vendor Emsisoft, at least 45 school districts and 44 higher learning institutions suffered ransomware attacks in 2022.

"Schools are an attractive target as they are typically data-rich and resource-poor," Karen Sorady, vice president of member engagement at the Center for Internet Security (CIS), told Michigan Live in November, after a K-12 school district in Jackson, Mich., was hit. "Without proper resources in terms of dedicated staffing and the necessary tools and training to protect against cyber-attacks, schools can be a soft target."

Many of the 14 schools hit by this latest leak are colleges and universities, but primary and secondary schools were also hit, according to the BBC's list.

About the Author(s)

Karen Spiegelman, Features Editor

Karen joined Dark Reading in January 2022 as features editor. She's been in tech editing since before the img tag was introduced, working for outlets such as the IEEE Computer Society, CNET, and TechTV. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and two cats. Find her on Mastodon.

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