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A new higher education institution reveals it had been victim to a cyberattack. This time, the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield has been targeted by threat actors, leading to online lessons being called off.

University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield building

Source: University of Hertfordshire website

In a statement published on their website last Thursday, the university said the cyberattack took place late on Wednesday night and affected all of its IT system, as well as those in the Cloud such as Canvas, MS Teams, and Zoom. All its online classes scheduled on Thursday have been canceled.

The university also reassured the students that its IT staff is doing its best to find out what happened and fix the situation as soon as possible.

However, as a result, all online teaching will be canceled today (Thursday 15 April), and we understand that this may impact students being able to submit assignments. We want to reassure our students that no one will be disadvantaged as a consequence of this.

Source

They also added that any physical class or activity happening on campus may continue as long as computer access is not necessary. Onsite or remote access to computer facilities in the LRC’s, labs or the University Wi-Fi will not be available for students.

We apologize for the inconvenience this situation has caused and will continue to keep you updated. You can check the status of all our systems by visiting https://status.herts.ac.uk/.

At the moment, this is all we know about the cyberattack, even though more and more higher education institutions experienced a ransomware attack during the past year, somewhat following flaws brought about by online learning during Coronavirus.

Last year in the United Kingdom, Newcastle and Northumbria Universities were hit by ransomware cyberattacks, leading to serious disruption.

So, Why Are These Universities Such Tempting Targets For Threat Actors?

Jérôme Robert, director at Alsid explained:

Universities are becoming increasingly aware that they are prime targets for cyber-attacks and ransomware. Although universities’ pockets are not as deep as big enterprises, there are numerous characteristics which make them susceptible to attacks of this nature.

He also added:

The sheer size of the student and faculty at a University – in Hertfordshire’s case nearly 28,000 people – makes it incredibly difficult to secure and manage the IT estate. Think of the huge volume of new joiners and leavers each year at universities: IT teams somehow have to manage that process of creating, deleting, and managing all those accounts. It’s a never-ending operation to keep all of that neat and tidy, and any oversights such as old accounts not being closed down present risk. On top of this, higher education is currently at heightened risk because of the increase of network activity and general complexity of enabling hybrid learning.

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