Howard University
Howard University campus

Ransomware attack causes Howard University to shut down campus temporarily

Sept. 7, 2021
It’s still unknown who is behind the attack or how much of a ransom was demanded.

A ransomware attack has forced Howard University in Washington, D.C., to cancel classes. 

The incident was discovered on Sept. 3, weeks after students returned to campus.

The university’s Enterprise Technology Services detected “unusual activity” on Howard’s network and shut the system down in order to investigate, reports TechCrunch

“Based on the investigation and the information we have to date, we know the University has experienced a ransomware cyberattack,” the university said in a statement. Some details remain unclear — it’s unknown who is behind the attack or how much of a ransom was demanded —but Howard University says there is no evidence so far to suggest that personal data of its 9,500 undergraduate and graduate students been accessed. 

“However, our investigation remains ongoing, and we continue to work toward clarifying the facts surrounding what happened and what information has been accessed,” the statement said.

In order to enable its information technology team to fully assess the effect of the ransomware attack, Howard University canceled Tuesday’s classes; the campus was open only to essential employees. Campus wifi also will be down while the investigation is underway, though cloud-based software will remain available to students and teachers. 

“This is a highly dynamic situation, and it is our priority to protect all sensitive personal, research and clinical data,” the university said. “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.”

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