Thurston Community College was among six Suffolk schools hit by a bomb hoax email that struck more than 400 education facilities across the country yesterday.
The hoax seems to have been part of a harassment campaign by US hackers against a Michigan company that runs an internet server used for the computer game Minecraft.
Yesterday morning Helen Wilson, principal at Thurston Community College, posted on the school website: “Following this morning’s security concern at the college, I am pleased to confirm that a bomb threat we received by email at 09:34 this morning was a hoax.
“Having taken advice from the local authority and the police, we can now return to our normal daily routine.”
She sent parents an email explaining what steps they had taken, including seeking advice from Suffolk Police who were in contact with Scotland Yard’s Anti-Terrorist Unit.
The email said: “We were advised by the police to initiate a lock-down procedure.
“Teachers were told to keep their students with them in their teaching space until further notice.
“Students in ourdoor PE lessons were brought inside.”
Schools across the country followed similar procedures.
The hackers’ email, in English and Arabic, said: “We have sent in a student with a bomb. The bomb is set to go off in 3 hours time. If you do not send us $5,000 USD to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“If you do not send the money! We will blow up the device. Our site has all the information needed. If you try to call the cops we WILL blowup the device on the SPOT! ANY attempt at defusing it your self will cause it to explode.”
VeltPvP is the Minecraft server run by VELT in Michigan, who stress they had nothing to do with it.
The company said: “We’ve been being harassed by a group of cyber criminals that are trying to harass us in any way possible. We’re extremely sorry for anyone who had to deal with this.”
Suffolk Police said: “Officers take hoaxes extremely seriously. They divert police resources and cause disruption and alarm to the public.
“Suffolk County Council is working to support police and the affected schools.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”