CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. - A school district in western Wisconsin says hackers have stolen nearly $150,000 after breaking into its payroll system.
A La Crosse Tribune report says the hackers targeted the Stanley-Boyd School District in Chippewa County.
Superintendent Jim Jones says the hackers apparently accessed direct-deposit files from the Nov. 23 payroll. He says the district's liability insurance will cover the loss.
The district's payroll services are handled by AnchorBank of Wisconsin. AnchorBank spokeswoman Jennifer Ranville says the bank is helping district employees close out their accounts and open new ones in case their account information was compromised.
She says no other AnchorBank customers were affected.
Jones says the district is working with bank officials to improve the payroll system's security.
The Superintendant released a written statement Wednesday morning. It reads:
"At approximately 4:00 pm last Wednesday, November 21, AnchorBank alerted us that there was a concern with our November 23 payroll. Unfortunately, hackers appear to have accessed our direct deposit file which resulted in a loss of approximately $150,000. On November 26, the Leader-Telegram ran a story on the payroll after obtaining an internal email to staff. The email to staff was sent on the recommendation of AnchorBank that we alert all staff that they should check bank accounts and change account information if appropriate. At no time did the District intend to place blame on AnchorBank. It does appear from reading the LT story and scanning my email that the blame was prematurely placed on the bank. At this point, the FBI is investigating the infiltration to determine where that infiltration took place. We have been advised not to continue to discuss the situation until the investigation has been completed. I would like to add that AnchorBank representatives worked late into the evening on Wednesday to ensure that all Stanley-Boyd employees received their paychecks on time and the bank has continued to work with the school district to make sure our funds are fully recovered.
As a good employer, the school district is currently looking into various options for providing protection for our employees. Beyond the obvious changing of system passwords within the District, we have already worked with AnchorBank to make our system of money transferring more secure on our end in the future. We also are looking into various options for providing individual financial protection for our employees. Finally, we want the taxpayers and parents of our District to know that this will not have an impact on our educational program. The bank has already retrieved a good portion of our money and is continuing to retrieve more. In the event we cannot retrieve all of our money, the District carries liability insurance which covers these type situations.
Again, while we understand that there is a desire to know more information, the investigation is being completed by the FBI and the District will not comment beyond this statement until that investigation has been completed.
The FBI is handling the investigation."
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