University of Northampton hit by cyber attack

The university has rolled out a number of “temporary solutions” after the attack disrupted its IT and telephone systems

University of Northampton logo sign on new building on nene river

The University of Northampton has been hit by a cyber attack that resulted in the disruption of its IT and telephone systems and servers.

The university told IT Pro the attack was detected on March 17, that it has notified the ICO and, as a precaution, is liaising with the police to investigate the attack further. It has rolled out a number of “temporary solutions” to support students and staff.

“We are working with expert consultants to investigate and resolve this issue as quickly as possible, including legal counsel and IT forensics investigators, who are assessing the impact and advising on the appropriate remedial actions," a spokesperson for the university told IT Pro. "The full facts of the situation have not yet been established and we will provide further information as soon as we can."

The university highlighted that cyber attacks on its institutions are becoming increasingly common “as criminals target educational establishments with no regard to the disruption to teaching and learning such attacks cause.”

“At the University of Northampton, we take the safety and security of our information as well as the continuity of our systems and services extremely seriously - and will continue to take every action to protect the organisation against cyber attacks,” the spokesperson added.

Northamptonshire Police also confirmed to IT Pro it was working with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the university to investigate the cyber attack. "Enquiries are ongoing," said a spokesperson.

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The NCSC said that since late February 2021, there has been an increased number of ransomware attacks on education establishments in the UK, including schools, colleges and universities. The organisation had previously acknowledged an increase in ransomware attacks on the UK education sector during August and September 2020.

At the start of September last year, Northumbria University suffered a cyber attack that forced the clearing hotline and student portal offline. A number of exams scheduled for the week it happened were also postponed.

Similarly the week after, Newcastle University was held ransom after cyber criminals hacked into its systems at the start of September. The criminals allegedly posted some of the data on the dark web and threatened to post more if a ransom wasn’t paid.

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