A Scary Situation for Montana Schools

Currently, something really strange is impacting students in Flathead County, a gorgeous area in northwestern Montana. Since last Thursday, over 30 schools covering multiple districts have temporarily closed down. The reason is chilling.

A hacker, or, as President Trump would call him, “a bad dude,” supposedly managed to infiltrate the computer system of the Columbia Falls School District. Once successful, this person didn’t demand money or seek other collateral. Instead, his goal was to simply incite fear.

This particular person was able to obtain information from the computer system that has allowed him to contact school officials and random parents not just by e-mail but through text messaging as well. The contact has been continuous. The message?…

Content so disturbing, violent, and vulgar that school officials and the media won’t even reveal it.

However, the gist is clear: go to school and die.

Imagine this for a moment: You receive a text message that uses your name and says your children and classmates will be subjected to violence. You freak out, right?

Yes, messages sent to people within the district have been personalized. The hacker is extremely sophisticated and able to send threats that include the name and info of each recipient. Things are starting to get out of control. Law enforcement, school officials, and students/families are understandably spooked.

But it gets even weirder! In my opinion, the craziest part of this whole story is that the hacker contacted the major newspaper in the county and requested an interview. During the course of the electronic discussion with journalists from The Beacon, the hacker continued speaking in violent and obscene terms, stating his goal was to kill people in large numbers. He admitted he wanted to paralyze the community in fear. He also spent considerable time mocking Flathead County by spewing stereotypes about that specific area of the country and shaming the community for closing down schools based solely on threats. 

Talk about a superintendent’s worst nightmare. What can you possibly do? This hacker has seized complete control of Flathead County. I don’t think a sane person would question the school leadership for closing down but of course the impact is immense. Three days of instruction have been lost; all athletic contests, dances, and extracurricular activities have been canceled. Students and staff are at home, wondering how the situation will unfold. It is tough to guess the long term effects on the academic/activities calendar.

Over the weekend, law enforcement officials did determine that this hacker is operating in an area thousands of miles from the state of Montana. With this news, despite the threats that are still continuing from this lunatic, classes are expected to resume tomorrow.

I feel for everyone in Flathead County. This is beyond scary and completely unfair. I hope students can return to classes tomorrow with a sense of safety. As for the hacker, I hope he is brought to justice and his identity exposed. It is impossible to calculate the damage he has done. Don’t Blink.

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