Camino Nuevo Charter Academy yesterday notified 7,916 people of a data breach that took place in July 2023, but wasn’t discovered until January 2024. The attack was claimed in August 2023 by ransomware group Akira, which says it stole 75 GB of data including Social Security numbers, passports, and other business documents.

In its data breach notice, the school confirmed financial account numbers and credit card info was compromised in the attack, and is offering victims free credit monitoring through Transunion.

“Our investigation determined that an unknown actor gained access to certain CNCA systems between July 20, 2023, and July 29, 2023, and may have accessed and/or downloaded certain files stored on our systems,” the notice reads.

In its ransom note, Akira specifically mentions that the data pertained to “students in a college prepatory program.” The school has not confirmed this claim. Camino Nueva has not disclosed how the attack occurred, whether it paid a ransom, or why it took so long to detect the attack and notify victims.

akira camino nuevo charter academy ransomware note

Comparitech contacted Camino Nuevo for comment and will update this article if it responds.

Who is Akira?

Akira is a ransomware gang that first emerged in March 2023. Its targets span education, finance, manufacturing, real estate, and healthcare. It often extorts victims twice: once in exchange for a decryption key to restore systems, and again in exchange for not selling or publicly releasing stolen confidential data.

Akira has been confirmed as the group behind nine other attacks on schools and colleges since it first surfaced:

  • BridgeValley Community and Technical College
  • Mercer University – 93,512 records affected. No ransom paid.
  • Middlesex County Public Schools – No ransom paid.
  • Morehead State University – 21 records affected.
  • Edmonds School District – 145,844 records affected.
  • Stanford University – 27,000 records affected
  • Van Buren Public Schools – No ransom paid.
  • Renton School District – 30,373 records affected
  • Blackburn College – 3,039 records affected

Ransomware attacks on US education

Ransomware attacks are a growing concern for schools and colleges worldwide. They take down key systems, shut schools for days on end, and prevent teachers from accessing lesson plans and student data.

We recorded 100 confirmed ransomware attacks on US schools in 2023, affecting 2,195,175 records. This year we’ve logged 10 so far, affecting 8,797 records. The average ransom was about $450,000.

About Camino Nuevo Charter Academy

Camino Nuevo Charter Academy is a group of six charter schools in the MacArthur Park area near Los Angeles, California. It was founded in 2000 and has about 930 students, according to external sources.