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UK college hit with DoS attack on results day

Myerscough College staff had to email results to each student as online services were taken down

A college in Lancashire suffered a malicious denial of service (DoS) attack that stopped students accessing their GCSE and other exam results online.

Myerscough College in Billsborrow had to email exam results to each student as a result of the attack, which also affected online enrolment, according to the BBC.

A spokesperson for the college said Lancashire Police were investigating and that no student data had been taken.

This is the latest in a series of cyber attacks on educational institutes within the last few months. In May, cloud provider Blackbaud was attacked with ransomware that allowed hackers to access data for a number of universities in the UK, US and Canada.

In a statement, Myerscough college said it had been "among the most challenging days in college history", adding that the DoS attack damaged all of its IT infrastructure. As a result, staff could only be contacted through social media as its systems were offline for a lengthy period of time. 

"When it became apparent that the server wouldn't be back online, we decided to manually email all students their grades," the college said in a statement.

"As many hundreds of students were affected, this has taken a massive effort from staff through the day, who have worked quickly to try to contact everybody."

Dos attacks are relatively unsophisticated and easy to carry out, according to Carl Wearn, head of e-crime at Mimecast, which is part of the reason they have increased during the pandemic.

"Educational establishments are particularly vulnerable to attack given the collaborative nature of their operating environment and the need to allow a wide range of student and tutor's devices remote connectivity to their network," said Wearn.

"IT professionals should be alive to the increased potential for this form of attack as 5G rolls out, increasing data throughput for a vast array of mobile devices, especially with more of the workforce working remotely."

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