Howard University Hit with Ransomware
The Institution Shut Down Its Network and Informed the FBI and D.C. City Government.
According to university representatives, although work is being done to remediate the situation as quickly as possible, a long-time full recovery is expected.
The official statement reads:
On September 3, 2021, the Howard University information technology team detected unusual activity on the University’s network. In accordance with our cyber response protocol, and to mitigate potential criminal activity, Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) intentionally shut down the University’s network to investigate the situation.
The situation is still being investigated, but we are writing to provide an interim update and to share as much information as we safely and possibly can at this point in time, considering that our emails are often shared within a public domain.
Based on the investigation and the information we have to date, we know the University has experienced a ransomware cyberattack.
As explained by the university officials, the attack took a large number of university systems offline, resulting in reduced operations. Additionally, classes on Tuesday were canceled and the campus remained open only to essential employees.
In the same statement, the university said that its information technology team detected irregular activity on the network on September 3rd. As a result, the university’s Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) shut down the network and began investigating the issue.
Campus Wi-Fi remains down until ETS determines the best and safest path to stand it up. Certain applications are stored in the cloud and will remain active and accessible. Students will be able to access them in the usual manner. However, due to ETS’ efforts to restore systems, other apps may not be available for the time being.
Howard University is currently working with leading external forensic experts and law enforcement to fully investigate the incident and its impact. So far, there has been no evidence of personal information being accessed or exfiltrated; however, according to their statement, the investigation remains ongoing until the facts surrounding the incident and what information has been accessed are clarified.
This is a highly dynamic situation, and it is our priority to protect all sensitive personal, research, and clinical data. We are in contact with the FBI and the D.C. city government, and we are installing additional safety measures to further protect the University’s and your personal data from any criminal ciphering.
Additional measures were taken to increase the protection of all sensitive personal, research, and clinical data against unauthorized encryption, including information on phishing attempts and how to protect data online beyond the Howard University community.