The city of New Haven was struck by a staggering blow as it grappled with the aftermath of a relentless cyberattack that targeted its public school district, resulting in a jaw-dropping loss of over $6 million. The sophisticated attack, carried out during the summer months, involved cybercriminals assuming the identities of the city’s chief operating officer and private vendors through skillfully crafted emails. The breach came to light when a Connecticut school bus company raised concerns about missing payments, uncovering a web of deceit that had been meticulously woven.
The audacious hackers managed to infiltrate the public school email account of the city’s COO in May, silently observing interactions with vendors before seamlessly inserting themselves into the exchanges by impersonating both the COO and the vendors themselves. This allowed them to issue fraudulent requests for electronic transfers to accounts under their control.
Shockingly, this culminated in a total of six payments, with a staggering sum of more than $5.9 million meant for the school bus company being rerouted. Further exacerbating the situation, the cybercriminals also targeted a law firm with two additional payments, bringing the scope of their deception into sharp focus.
Despite the severity of the breach, New Haven’s Mayor Justin Elicker, expressed his resolve to combat the criminals and reclaim the stolen funds, emphasizing the ethical dimension of the crime as funds intended for the city’s public school children were callously diverted. The FBI’s involvement led to a cautious approach, initially advising New Haven officials to withhold public statements in order to safeguard the ongoing investigation.
While the city has managed to recover $3.6 million and freeze additional funds, the pursuit of justice remains paramount as officials continue to collaborate with federal authorities to unmask the perpetrators and bolster the city’s cybersecurity measures.