British Universities Shut Down By Cyber Attacks

Britains Northumbria University, which offers a prestigious Cyber Security (MSc)Masters Programme, has been the target of a damaging cyberattack and  had to close its campus, whilst neighbouring Newcastle University has also been hit by a cyber-attack which is expected to take "a number of weeks" to sort out.

The attacks have been reported to the Information Commissioner's Office and police after the IT problem became clear.

Both universities have said that its teams were working with a number of agencies, including police, to find out what happened. "The nature of the problem means this is an ongoing situation which we anticipate will take a number of weeks to address... A number of our IT services are not operating and will remain that way for the duration." said Deputy vice chancellor at Northumbria University, Peter Francis. The incident, caused  significant disruption” and that work was underway to restore IT systems as quickly as possible and that there would be no student access to campus until  work to restore the  network was cpmpleted. 

Newcastle University sent out letters alerting people to the incident and assured them that information involving bank details, financial information or password data was not affected.

Although not officially named, some of the attacks bears all the hallmarks of ransomware. Financially motivated cyber-criminals have been increasingly focusing on the education sector of late as institutions are thought to be more exposed to attacks and under tremendous commercial pressure to ensure uptime for staff and students.

Data has revealed that a third of UK universities have been attacked with ransomware in the past decade.

Most recently, a ransomware outage and data breach at US IT services company Blackbaud affected numerous education centres in the UK and elsewhere. The attack on Blackbaus is the latest following a sequence of attacks on US Universities, including those in Utah and California.

It’s not known if the Northumbria University attack also featured data theft. A spokesperson for Northumbria University said: “Northumbria University can confirm that we have been the victim of a cyber-incident which is causing operational disruption across our network and IT systems.

Infosecurity Magazine:      BBC:    ChroncicleLive:   The Boar:     

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