Crooks hold info ransom after breaking into Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County computer system

Better Call Behnken

Spokeswoman says affected parties will be notified when the coalition knows more

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County confirms to 8 On Your Side a ransomware attack targeted the nonprofit’s computer system.

A spokeswoman told Investigator Shannon Behnken that the coalition is working with legal experts, forensic experts and law enforcement to understand the extent of the information.

“Our investigation is ongoing, but at this time, we are confident the incident has been contained and that our systems have been secured,” the coalition said in an email to Better Call Behnken. “As we have worked through this incident, there has been no disruption to the services we provide children and families or payments to our child care provider community.”

The coalition serves more than 20,000 children and their families in Hillsborough County by helping families find and, in some cases, pay for childcare. The coalition administers the VPK program and provides those state-funded payments to childcare providers.

It is unclear what information the crooks took. The coalition tells 8 On Your Side their system is now secure but did not say whether they paid the crooks.

The spokeswoman adds that the breached information does not appear to include child and family information but says the investigation is ongoing. They will communicate with affected parties once they know more.

“We understand that there will be questions and concerns,” the coalition said in a news release. “Resolving those are critically important to us. Once we have a more complete and verified understanding of the event, we will proactively communicate with potentially affected parties.”

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