Nearly $150,000 was stolen from the Stanley-Boyd School District in western Wisconsin after hackers accessed and rerouted direct-deposit files from the district’s Nov. 23 payroll.
The school district was first alerted of a payroll issue on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at around 4 p.m. The FBI has since been notified and is handling the investigation.
According to the Chippewa Herald, the Madison-based Anchor Bank, which serves the district, has recovered some of the stolen funds and is working to retrieve more. Superintendent Jim Jones said the district's liability insurance will cover any losses.
“As a good employer, the school district is currently looking into various options for providing protection for our employees,” Jones said in a written statement. “Beyond the obvious changing of system passwords within the District, we have already worked with Anchor Bank to make our system of money transferring more secure on our end in the future.”
Jones added the district is also considering options for individual financial protection for school employees.
The Associated Press reports the bank is working with district employees to close out their accounts and open new ones, in the event their account information was compromised. She said none of the bank's other customers were affected.
The hacking incident has prompted nearby districts to reevaluate their payroll security, the La Crosse Tribune reports. Larry Dalton, finance director for the Onalaska School District, called his district’s bank in an effort to learn more about the situation at Stanley-Boyd and determine if Onalaska schools require stronger security.
“Hopefully, we’ll all learn from this and see if there’s a way of tightening things up,” Dalton told the Tribune.
La Crosse School District finance director Janet Rosseter told the paper school officials there take preventative measures to keep out hackers by making security a regular topic of conversation during meetings between the district and Wells Fargo, its bank.
“That’s not a conversation that happens in reaction to something,” Rosseter told the Tribune. “It’s a proactive conversation that we have at an ongoing basis.”