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Expired domain name led to hacking of Newry primary school website

March 11, 2019

A Newry primary school became the target of an online attack when it had its website hacked and replaced with pornography recently.

St Ronan’s Primary School alerted parents of children at the school to the IT breach after being alerted to it on Sunday morning (3rd March) by a Twitter user.  The school immediately issued a warning that no-one should attempt to enter the school website as it had been replaced with “extremely inappropriate material.”   

Those who searched for St. Ronan’s Primary School in Newry online, and went to the school’s website, were met with graphic images and videos instead of the school’s regular page.

Another Twitter user informed the school that the St. Ronan’s website domain was not set to auto renew on 17th January, so a result it became available to purchase and was subsequently registered to an organisation in Russia. 

SDLP Councillor Gary Stokes branded the attack “vile” and condemned those responsible.

He said: “This is shocking and absolutely malicious.

“It is disgraceful that someone would think it is amusing to target a primary school in this way.

“It is also very disturbing for the children who range in age from 4 to 11, my thoughts are with the pupils and parents who have seen this.

“The police should be fully investigating this sinister attack and I would urge anyone who knows anything about it to come forward.”

Police investigating the matter have advised that the lease for the website had expired and it was legitimately purchased by another user.  “The website is no way related to the school.” police confirmed.

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