Another emailed bomb threat against Hilton schools; Will they ever find the sender?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – There was another bomb threat Thursday against Hilton schools. Just like the ones before, the threat was emailed to News10NBC. The newsroom immediately shared it with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office and the school.

And then we started asking if police can ever catch the person sending them.

Every single email threat against Hilton sent through us ended in “” That’s a Russian domain. This is what the Sheriff’s Office said after the first threat.

“We have not found any connection or local suspects to this threat,” Captain Pat Rojas said. “If we do, we will track you down. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law.”

“What do you think the chances are that police find the person or people who sent these emails?” I asked Ahmed Hamza, program director for RIT’s computing security department. Hamza says arrests can happen but they require warrants and cooperation.

“Some investigations have narrowed to the Facebook profile of the attacker,” he said. “And they can get to the criminal but unfortunately you don’t have the right to go after them unless that government cooperates.”

Dr. Hamza says the sender could be American but figured out how to use a Russian server. 

“They’re from,” Chester Wisniewski said. “So is a Russian equivalent to say or hotmail or gmail. That kind of thing.”

Wisniewski is a 25-year-veteran of cyber-security. He says is a public email service with free accounts that people can hide behind. I reached him in Vancouver, Canada.

“Even if they were real coming from, because of our current relationship with Russia it’s highly unlikely law enforcement will get any cooperation in determining who may have connected to send them,” he said. “Because if it had been a yahoo address there would be a subpoena to Yahoo going — what computer connected to you to send these?”

Brean: “If you were a parent in the school district that got most of these threats, would you feel like they’re going to catch somebody or would you feel a little bit hopeless?”
Chester Wisniewski, Sophos: “I’m optimistic that the person making these threats is unlikely to know as much about how to hide their identify online as I do.”

Dr. Zakariya Qawaqneh runs SUNY Brockport’s new major program in cyber-security. I asked him the same question.

Dr. Zakariya Qawaqneh, Cybersecurity program SUNY Brockport: “Just the local police?”
Brean: “No, if the FBI is involved.”
Qawaqneh: “FBI, Homeland Security involved, yes I think it would be more than 90%.”
Brean: “You think there’s a 90% chance they’ll find the person who did this? Really?”
Qawaqneh: “Yes. If they can find the source of the sent email.”

Every expert I talked to thinks the emails that threaten violence against Hilton schools are spoofs. Similar emails were sent to school districts in different parts of the country, like Iowa. The topic and the threats were identical.