In a string of attacks, several of Los Angeles’ most elite private schools have had their servers hacked in recent weeks, leaving confidential teacher information and parent contact details exposed.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the attacks follow an apparent pattern, with the hacker or group of hackers in each case sending out email blasts containing staff payroll documentation to both parents and students that are, incidentally, “riddled with racist, sexist and homophobic language.” In at least one instance, the hackers’ missive seemed to suggest that white teachers should receive pay raises.
As one source candidly told the Reporter, the entire ordeal has been nothing less than “a shitshow” for al involved.
Members of the school communities who received the data dumps report that the hackers messages were in some cases framed as party invites, and in at least one instance used name of one of the school’s more notable parents in the subject line in order to grab readers’ attentions.
The three schools known to have been hacked — the Center for Early Education in West Hollywood, the Carlthorp School in Santa Monica and The Windward School in Mar Vista — are all attended by the monied children of Hollywood’s top executives and most prominent stars. While the Reporter declined to publish the identities of current students in order to protect the privacy of minors, the Center’s alumni include actors like Jonah Hill and Maggie Gyllenhaal, while Windward counts Zoe Kazan and Jason Schwartzman among its alumni.
Sources who spoke to the Reporter under the condition of anonymity have said that both private and federal law enforcement officials have begun investigating the briefs, and also said that the FBI is currently looking into the attacks.
As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, schools have increasingly turned to digital tools like email and Zoom in order to aid online learning efforts. That rapid rollout of new tech has led to an uptick in the amount of data schools are collecting, and has also sparked concern among those who fear that the existing infrastructure for protecting students’ privacy was already inadequate to begin with.