Private School Threatened: Pay $1M or Cyber-Attack

Hot on the heels of the infamous Sony hack, Pine Forge Academy in Berks County is facing a similar threat if it doesn’t pay $1 million to a person claiming to be with a group called Heart of the People.

The private Douglas Township boarding school received an anonymous email Tuesday from a "Heart hacker” who said the organization has taken down 57 institutions. Damage was assured to Pine Forge’s computer system and property if the rasnom isn't paid.

The "hacker" claimed to be paid $900,000 by some Pine Forge alumni to perform a cyberattack against the institution. They promised no harm if the $1 million is paid. The school alerted authorities who reviewed the message and searched the grounds before declaring them safe.

"We have no information about why this monetary ransom was made, the school authorities are cooperating with police authorities as they investigate this matter and will keep us posted on any further developments," said the academy's Headmistress Nicole Falconer.


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Pennsylvania state police are tracing the email from its IP address. A novel case for them, authorities are seriously looking into the matter to determine if it's a sincere threat or a prank or scam. Police advised the school to strictly follow all safety protocols and procedures.

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