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Hackers steal $800,000 from Cape Cod Community College

Hackers stole more than $800,000 from Cape Cod Community College last week when they infiltrated the school’s bank accounts, the school notified its employees Friday.
Hackers stole more than $800,000 from Cape Cod Community College last week when they infiltrated the school’s bank accounts, the school notified its employees Friday.(Cape Cod Community College/File)

Hackers stole more than $800,000 from Cape Cod Community College last week when they infiltrated the school’s bank accounts, the school notified its employees Friday.

Several computers in the school’s Nickerson Administration Building were hacked by a phishing scheme that used malware to obtain access to the school’s accounts, according to an e-mail from the school president, John Cox, sent Friday afternoon to school faculty and staff.

Hackers obtained banking information from the school by sending computer viruses via e-mail that lodged in the computer and stole school bank information, then fraudulently transferred the money out of the school’s accounts at TD Bank, according to a school spokesman. Working with the bank, the school has recovered about $300,000 of the funds, the school said.

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Since the hack, the school has identified and prevented several subsequent attacks, according to Cox’s e-mail. The spokesman said Friday the school believes the same hackers tried unsuccessfully to infiltrate other colleges in the area but said he did not know which ones.

The attack started with an Internet outage that school officials believed was a Comcast issue but later realized was a hack, said the school spokesman, Patrick Stone. The school said the FBI is investigating; an FBI spokeswoman said she could not confirm an investigation. No personal information from students or college employees was compromised, the college said.

The school said payroll and other financial operations will not be affected, and it is working with the bank to recover the rest of the stolen money. The school is also working with state IT officials and the comptroller’s office to prevent future attacks, the school said.

Cox plans to hold a meeting Monday with school employees to provide more information.

The West Barnstable college has an operating budget of about $35 million, about half of which comes from the state, according to its most recent financial statement. It has 4,900 students, 68 full-time faculty, and 159 full-time staff. The school offers associate’s degrees with a specialty in aviation programs and partners with schools that offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

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The college has replaced all infected hard drives, according to the president’s e-mail. It will conduct more cybersecurity training for faculty, staff, and students. Stone, the school spokesman, said the college plans to invest in more sophisticated software to prevent attacks in the future.


Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com.