As I walked into my office at 5:10 pm today, after our elementary parent meeting, I received good news from law enforcement.
Sheriff Chuck Curry of the Flathead County Sheriff’s Department just released a statement indicating that the group responsible for the cyber-attacks have been identified as being located outside of the United States.
Additionally, Sheriff Curry reports that the physical threats were not real and were simply a tactic used by the cyber extortionists to facilitate a demand for money.
There will still be law enforcement present on our school campuses tomorrow as a safety precaution. Our staff have prepared age appropriate discussion materials that will be used at all buildings.
We are grateful for this news and look forward to school and student activities resuming for all students tomorrow, Tuesday, September 19. If you still feel uncomfortable in sending your children to school tomorrow please contact your child’s school to excuse the absence.
We look forward to welcoming our students back tomorrow, September 19.
Mark Flatau, Superintendent
NEWS RELEASE FROM SHERIFF CHUCK CURRY
September 17, 2017
From: Sheriff Chuck Curry
For Immediate Release – Update on Cyber Terrorism Case – Monday
As the joint investigation into the cyber terrorism case has progressed, further information has come to light. On Monday a ransom letter stating the demands of the cyber “hackers” was received via email by members of the Columbia Falls school district.
I have been keeping some information confidential in an attempt to not hamper our investigation, and know that “Trust Me” is beginning to wear thin. As a matter of course, ransom demand letters are generally never released to the public due to obvious investigative reasons. We understand that our valley has been terrorized due to the extremely emotionally charged, seemingly real, physical threats to the students of our area schools. We have made the unusual decision to release the ransom demand letter. We feel this is important to allow our community to understand that the threats were not real, and were simply a tactic used by the cyber extortionists to facilitate their demand for money. All student information and identifying information has been redacted, and the redactions are noted in the released document. Other than the redacted information, the letter is verbatim, as received from the extortionists. The letter is attached to this release.
The group who have identified themselves in this letter have been identified, and are the subject of active investigations elsewhere in our country. They are located outside of the United States. We have also discovered that they have frequently failed to live up to their promises to not release the stolen data in the past, even when their ransom demands have been met.
We fully understand the concern and fear that has resulted from this cyber-attack, and want the community to know that all the valley law enforcement agency heads feel there is no threat to the physical safety of our children. As previously stated, the safety of our children has always, throughout this investigation, remained our paramount concern. We will continue to work around the clock to bring those responsible to justice, and remain fully committed to this investigation, even though we now know the physical threat to our children does not exist.