Photo Credit: Contributed
By: Natalia Clarke
Northern Caribbean University’s (NCU) administrative systems were hit with a cyberattack last week, according to their Corporate Communications, Marketing and Public Relations (CCMPR) department.
Currently, several files are inaccessible to the university, but they are working to have it resolved.
The hack of the systems responsible for accounting and other processes was first noticed on Friday, January 21, 2022, but a security log indicates that the cyber attack started at 6:33 pm on January 20.
“We were made aware of the attack when one worker was unable to do her work on the system,” Director of CCMPR, Byron Buckley said.
He says this is the first cyberattack on the school that has significantly affected administrative processes, and the university is in contact with the relevant government agency.
There is still no information regarding the source of the attack, but Buckley says the Aeorion Learning Management System and the email systems are not affected.
As a result of the crime, students and staff members are being advised not to use any computer on the university’s network while measures are being taken to restore all services.
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Meanwhile, research by cybersecurity provider, BlueVoyant, found that the near universal shift to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic has left colleges and universities vulnerable to cyberattacks. The research indicates that attacks doubled between 2019 and 2021.
When asked if NCU has backups of valuable information to protect against ransomware, Byron Buckley said, “there is external backup, but not fully, which is why the administrative systems were compromised.”
Ransomware is when hackers hold information or systems, usually by encryption until the victim pays a ransom. If the ransom is not paid in time, the information is deleted or the ransom increases.
There is no report of a ransom or any demand at this time.
Buckley says the school is always upgrading its technological infrastructure and will seek new protection measures in light of the cyberattack.
More information will be provided as the investigation unfolds.
** A section which contained a quote from NCU lecturer Faithlyn Preddie has been removed pending further investigation into the impact of the cyberattack on the university’s computer systems.