Howard University in Washington has announced that its computer network was subjected to a ransomware cyberattack that caused the school to cancel classes on Tuesday.
In a press release, the historically Black university explained that the attack forced its IT Team to shut down the campus Wi-Fi until it determines the best way to safely re-open it. The school also instructed nonessential employees not to report to work because of the incident.
Although the institution did not provide details regarding the nature of the attack, it said there is no evidence so far that students’ or employees’ personal information has been compromised.
“This is a moment in time for our campus when IT security will be at its tightest,” the university said. “We recognize that there has to be a balance between access and security; but at this point in time, the University’s response will be from a position of heightened security.”
Howard is now teaming up with forensic experts and law enforcement to determine who was responsible for the attack and the motive behind it.
‘Cyberattacks are Evolving’
On Tuesday night, Howard issued an update, saying it is preparing an alternate Wi-Fi network for temporary use on campus. However, the replacement will not be ready on Wednesday, so teachers should use other options to access online academic modules.
The university also asked its students and employees for patience and understanding because fixing a ransomware attack “is a long haul – not an overnight solution.”
“Our investigation remains ongoing, and we continue to work toward clarifying the facts surrounding what happened and what information has been accessed,” the school said.
Meanwhile, data protection software company official Stephen Manley believes that academic institutions have become “prime targets” for cyberattacks. He described recent attacks on universities as “sophisticated.”
“The attack on Howard University is yet another sign that cyberattacks are global, interconnected, and evolving. Hackers, drawn by the lucrative potential of holding business-critical data hostage, are launching more sophisticated attacks every day,” he told CBS News.