WASHINGTON — Cyber thieves struck the Anne Arundel County public school system, managing to steal about $57,000 after rerouting the direct deposit pay of 36 school employees.
“It appears to be a targeted phishing attack. We believe the employees involved — 36 of them — at some point, clicked on some spam email that provided these thieves with access to usernames and passwords, which they then used to redirect paychecks to another account,” said Anne Arundel County Public Schools spokesman Bob Mosier.
No databases or any other parts of the computer system were compromised, Mosier said. The cyber theft happened in the latest biweekly pay period, Nov. 22. After getting through the holiday weekend without their pay, the employees were issued old-fashioned paper checks this week.
“All of those folks have been made whole; they’ve all received paychecks to make up for what was redirected, and we’re working with our insurance company to try to recoup that money for our system,” Mosier said.
All 10,000 employees of the school system have received an email from the school superintendent explaining the dangers of clicking on spam email. Some of the school system’s pay functions have been temporarily disabled as technicians resolve the entry by the cyber theft.
Police have launched an investigation.