Documents leak and schools are attacked online.

a laptop-using individual is typing.

The BBC has learned that hackers have exposed highly private documents from 14 schools online.

A hacker collective by the name of Vice Society chose Pates Grammar School in Gloucestershire as one of its targets.

The documents, which were seen by the BBC, contain data on children's special education needs (SEN), scans of children's passports, staff pay scales, and contract information from 2021 and 2022.

Pates Grammar School, according to a spokeswoman, takes the security of its systems and data very seriously.

A high-profile series of assaults on schools in the UK and the USA in recent months have been carried out by The Vice Society.

According to technology website Wired, it allegedly stole 500 gigabytes of data from the entire Los Angeles Unified School District.

An alert regarding the group's activities has already been issued by the FBI in America.

Vice Society demands money after data theft and releases the documents if no payment is made.

Pates Grammar School had a large number of documents stolen by hackers who used broad search terms to find the information.

In a folder labeled "passports," students' and parents' passport scans from outings with the school dating back to 2011, while in a folder labeled "contract," employment offers to staff and lesson plans on muscle contractions are found.

Documents on the headmaster's salary and the recipients of student bursaries can be found in a separate folder labeled "confidential.".

The BBC discovered private documents on Vice Society's website along with information from Pates and documents allegedly from the following organizations. .

For comments, we have gotten in touch with every school on this list.

Teachers were informed of the breach, but we did not let them know what information had been stolen, according to a statement from Lampton School. We were not instructed to alert the data subjects by the ICO. With two-factor authentication, we restricted remote access to all but a small portion of the staff, and we reset all of our passwords. ".

"Parents, students, staff, and all parties involved were immediately informed and kept updated throughout the recovery process," according to Mossbourne Federation. Since the cyberattack, we have fully recovered and are back to business as usual. ".

The De Montfort School opted against commenting.

In September 2022, according to the School of Oriental and African Studies, it was hacked; among the 18,680 other files stolen were staff contracts and budget information.

"We made the staff and students aware of the incident, and while we were able to stop it from getting worse, it did lead to a small, limited data breach of files on internal storage.

"The affected individuals have been contacted," a spokesperson said. "We are continuing to offer support as needed.".

The data was leaked by hackers and posted on the dark web, a part of the internet frequently used by criminals.

You need specialized browsing software to access the dark web because it is not indexed by standard search engines.

According to estimates, Pates' IT systems and phone lines were hacked on September 28, when the school emailed parents to let them know. A few days later, the school sent an email with contact information for Gmail accounts it had set up for parents.

The headteacher sent another email on October 7 to inform parents that a "third party without proper authorization" had accessed their systems. The school claimed it had notified the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and police about the affected teaching materials, which depended on Microsoft Teams.

There is currently no proof that data has been stolen or published, the headmaster wrote at the time. ".

Parental permission was sought again via email five days later.

"Unfortunately, it now seems that some of our data was taken by the criminal organization and placed on its dark web site," the headmaster wrote. "This site is not easily accessible and only available to a small audience with the technical knowledge and ability to access this specific site. .

If we find out that any important data has been impacted in this way, you will be informed and given advice and support. "   .

In 2022, it was confirmed by both the ICO and Gloucestershire Police that they were looking into the alleged breaches.

An official from Pates Grammar School stated: "We are currently collaborating closely with cyber-security experts to carry out a comprehensive assessment and analysis of this data.

"To secure our systems and fix the problem, we are collaborating with highly skilled forensic investigators.

"We've successfully brought back several critical systems, minimized the impact on staff and students, and are keeping the relevant authorities up to date on any new developments. ".

Follow BBC West on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Write to bristol@bbc.co.uk with your story suggestions.

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