One week after students were finally able to return to school and colleges across the UK, South and City College Birmingham has been forced to close all eight campuses following a ransomware cyber attack. The college has stated that they will revert to online teaching while computer forensic specialists work to fix the problem.
The college has informed the ICO and other government agencies in hopes of getting professional help in removing the malware from the college systems. The college posted on their website and Twitter page on the 13th of March calling the incident a "major ransomware attack" and informing students that their lessons would be found in their online learning resource.
The college has since confirmed that the attack compromised data on a number of servers and workstations. A number of systems were removed once they had discovered the malware however this was hours after the initial breach. The college is now in the process of investigating the extent of the outbreak and are working to ensure security and restore service “as quickly as possible”.
After a string of cyber attacks on the education industry both before and during lockdown, the ESFA (the Education and Skills Funding Agency) published advice on how places of learning can stay protected against cyber threats. This included: training staff to spot malicious emails, secure firewalls, and a series of questions designed to evaluate the cyber risk to the organisation.
Eighty per cent of further/higher education institutions identified a cyber security breach or attack in the 12 months prior to the end of 2019 according to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2020.
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