FBI investigating Brownsburg Schools website hacking
Update: The Brownsburg Community Schools' website was up and running again Friday, and the school district says attendance was back to normal.
The FBI wants to know who hacked into the Brownsburg Community Schools' website to respond to an anti-Islamic film provoking violence around the world.
The cryptic messages on the district's website prompted around 500 students to stay home from school Thursday.
"My mom felt like it wasn't safe for me to go," said Brownsburg High School junior Courtney Begeman.
Not everyone was convinced there was anything to be concerned about.
"A hoax. I thought it was somebody bored," said Amy Stroup.
At a press conference late Thursday, officials said that somebody was from Iraq.
"We actually know the person itself and that person is known for doing nothing but promoting propaganda. They are not known for physical violence," said Brownsburg Police Department Detective Sergeant Jennifer Pyatt-Barrett. "We are asking that everybody come back to school. This is not a credible threat."
Officials also say that the vulnerability was on the web platform provider's system, and that the breach has been closed. Classes will be held Friday as usual.
"Therefore, nothing at all, as far as confidential information, the integrity still is in place," explained Pyatt-Barrett.
Brownsburg bus driver Dee Frye met extremes Thursday morning after hackers took over the school corporations main web page announcing, "your site has been hacked by all Muslims of the world."
"Some kids just didn't have a lot to say. Some were like, 'we're going to die, we're going to die, we're going to die,'" Frye told Eyewitness News hours after completing her route.
In white, the hackers wrote:
"This breakthrough, (is) in response to the film and graphics depicting the master of the world..." referencing an anti-Islamic film provoking violence overseas.
Tuesday protests broke out outside the US Consulate in Cairo followed by a violent attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya, along with three other Americans.
In red, the message concludes:
"Coming, soon you will hear voices of our swords."
The message was posted for just 30 minutes before it was discovered and taken down.
The reaction now is longer lasting as hundreds of students failed to go to school Thursday.
"It's scary. It's very scary," said Lisa Coutu outside the Brownsburg post office.
"The issues going on concern me more than anybody getting on a website, quite frankly," said Byron Temple. "But yeah, it does concern me that they would get into a website like that," he added.
The FBI and local law enforcement spent the day inside school district headquarters tracing computer strokes, trying to determine where the message came from.
Brownsburg School administrators took to robo calls to calm fears.
"Authorities have assured us that there is no direct or indirect threat to Brownsburg Schools, students or staff. All Brownsburg schools are operating as per usual today," said the message sent to students homes Thursday morning.
Dee Frye says she's not concerned. "I don't worry too much about it, I have all the faith in the world in the school and the police that we're safe," she told Eyewitness News.
"What we currently know is that the website was hacked from an outside source and appears to be a random breach from a party looking for a vulnerable website," continued the phone recording.
Brownsburg residents say they hope the school district will implement a less vulnerable system to prevent repeat intrusions.
"Not only the safety of the children, but for everybody that works for the schools. All their information is out there," said Coutu.
Brownsburg Community Schools says no sensitive information was accessed. Student records are hosted on a different site.
Parents are asked to check the district's Facebook page for updates. They will also continue to provide updates by phone and email until the FBI gives the all clear for their website to return.
The site will stay offline until it has been secured. District officials say they know where the site was weak and how the hacker got into the main page. They have said closed all those gaps, but as of 9 p.m. Thursday, the site was still down.
"We would not ever have students at school when it was not safe," said School Superintendent Doctor Jim Snapp.
A message, students who went to school Thursday, said they heard throughout the day.
"The staff basically just told us that we shouldn't be nervous. We shouldn't really worry about it and it was fine," said student Hope Massingale.
"We live in a technology world where anything can happen. It doesn't necessarily mean that its doomsday," said Detective Sergeant Pyatt-Barrett.
Still, with protests and violence against Americans playing out on peoples televisions, the hacker's message has hit a raw nerve.
If the culprits are caught, they could face a charge of computer terrorism.