Major U.S. University shuts down its networks after ransomware attack

Security teams at Howard University in Washington D.C. confirmed that their systems were compromised due to a ransomware attack late last week. University officials say the systems will be restored shortly, though the process has already taken longer than expected.

Apparently, the attack led to the disruption of multiple systems, generating a forced reduction of operations. Activities on campus were totally canceled during Tuesday, so the academic institution could only perform its essential administrative tasks.

After the detection last Friday, the institution began implementing its cybersecurity incident response protocol, designed to mitigate the extent of infection. Once the affected systems were isolated, the university began its own investigation of the attack. So far the identity of the attacking group or the amount demanded as a ransom is not known.

Few details about the attack are known at the moment, although a university spokesman has already mentioned that there is no evidence that threat actors have accessed or stolen sensitive information. This is a risk to consider in virtually every ransomware attack in recent times, as recent hacking groups typically resort to double extortion, encrypting affected systems and stealing sensitive information.

The university has taken additional steps to increase the protection of all sensitive personal, research and clinical data against unauthorized encryption, in addition to filing a report with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The university has also contacted the DC city government.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.