After seeing successes of other gangs and new record demands like the one received by Acer, ransomware gangs have started to demand bigger ransoms. Some targeted organizations can not pay them.
In a recent ransomware attack, the Broward County Public Schools district received a ransom demand of $40,000,000. This makes this ransom the second-most largest demand seen to date after the one made to Acer by the Ryuk ransomware gang. The school says it doesn’t have this sum and can’t have because it is a public entity.
The Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school system in the USA, with 261,000 students and 110,000 adult students across 241 public schools, centers, colleges, and charter schools.
The attack took place last month and forced Florida’s Broward County Public Schools to shut down their IT systems. Since then, the school has not shared any new information about the incident.
This week, the Conti gang came out and claimed responsibility for the attack on BCPS. The threat actors published screenshots of the negotiations with the school, according to databreaches.net.
As the screenshots show, the attackers subsequently lowered the ransom to $10 million, but the school district was willing and could afford to pay no more than half that amount.
Ransomware gangs often research a victim’s finances prior to making ransom demands and tend to initially set high ransom amounts knowing that in the negotiation process the amount will go down significantly.
Foreign hackers not familiar with the US public school system may misunderstand revenue reports and other data and that in the USA schools typically have tight budgets. And strict health guidelines due to the pandemic draw extra finances from schools leaving little room for million-dollar ransoms.