Cyberattacks Disrupt Multiple Educational Institutions Across the U.S.
Various K-12 schools, colleges, and universities are grappling with significant technology outages, forcing disruptions to normal operations and raising serious concerns about the security of educational institutions.
North Carolina Central University Faces Cyberintrusion
North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a historically black university based in Durham, serving nearly 10,000 students, has fallen victim to a cyberattack. On November 12, campus technology systems, including the Wi-Fi network and the MyEOL portal, experienced disruptions. A spokesperson confirmed a cyberintrusion and mentioned that certain services were taken offline to contain the situation. While in-person classes continue, online courses are suspended until further notice. The IT team is working to shut down critical systems temporarily to mitigate the intrusion. The university has activated key partners, including the UNC System Office, North Carolina Department of Information Technology, Joint Communications Task Force, FBI, and U.S. Secret Service, to investigate and respond.
NCCU Adds to a Disturbing Trend
NCCU joins a distressing trend of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) facing cyberattacks in recent years, including Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Tennessee State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, North Carolina A&T University, and Florida International University. The attacks on these institutions are linked to funding imbalances, making it challenging to afford robust network security measures.
Glendale Community College Hit by Ransomware
Glendale Community College, serving over 25,000 students across its campuses, confirmed a ransomware attack this week. The attack led to the shutdown of systems, affecting student access to campus Wi-Fi, online class schedules, and employee systems. Financial aid processes, including fund disbursement to students’ accounts, were interrupted. The school is working on recovery efforts, but the timeline for resolution remains uncertain.
K-12 Schools Face Disruptions
Ransomware gangs targeted multiple K-12 schools, causing disruptions across the U.S. One notable case is North Muskegon Public Schools in Michigan, which had to cancel school due to a cyberattack. The school’s tech department, in collaboration with its insurance company’s cybersecurity team, is actively addressing the incident. Email systems and platforms used by students for assignments remain non-functional, prompting ongoing efforts to resolve the issue with digital forensic experts.
Widespread Coordination with Law Enforcement
Several educational institutions, including Henry County Schools in Atlanta and Oregon’s Beaverton School District, are actively coordinating with the FBI to address cyberattacks. The superintendent of Henry County Schools issued a YouTube message alerting parents about the incident, emphasizing the collaboration with law enforcement agencies to manage the situation.
As educational institutions continue to grapple with the fallout from these cyberattacks, questions regarding the overall cybersecurity preparedness of the education sector are becoming increasingly urgent. The impact on students, faculty, and essential processes underscores the need for enhanced security measures to safeguard the integrity of educational institutions nationwide. The ongoing investigations and responses from law enforcement and cybersecurity experts will be critical in determining the extent of the damage and preventing future attacks.