Sunderland University hit by suspected cyber attack

News / Sunderland University hit by suspected cyber attack

Sunderland University hit by suspected cyber attack

The University of Sunderland started experiencing technical difficulties on the 12th October, the institution reported that their phone lines, website and IT systems were down and has said that the situation has the markings of a cyber attack.  

The disturbance has caused the cancellation of all online classes and staff have faced difficulties accessing their emails. In addition to this the institution's website remains down. The university is currently working with the police to try and resolve the issue and has promised continuous updates to the students and staff. 

Hackers could have potentially gained entry to the systems using the influx of new students in the last few weeks. With many new students starting all at once and needing to create various logins to access the university network, it could have been a perfect entry path and attack vector for cyber criminals. Also with many universities migrating to the cloud environment, higher education institutions need to be extremely vigilant and make sure their cyber security practices are up to date and of a high standard. 

The suspected cyber attack comes after a surge of attacks targeting schools, colleges and other educational institutes during the Covid-19 pandemic. An attack on a university wouldn’t be an isolated incident, last year Newcastle University and Northumbria University fell victim to cyber attacks and in April 2021, the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Portsmouth suffered network outages lasting several days after ransomware attacks. 

It would seem that cyber criminals view the educational sector as an easy target following the transition to digital learning due to the pandemic. In July the National Cyber Security Centre updated its guidance on ransomware following a series of attacks on the education sector. Attacks on this sector over the past 18 months have become increasingly common and it’s concerning due to the extensive damage caused because of lost data

The attack will most likely have a significant impact on productivity. In addition, just as the new term begins, students and staff have lost access to their campus network, which will disrupt teaching efforts and access to study resources.

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