Howard University has been hit by a ransomware cyberattack, the university confirmed after the information technology team detected unusual activity on the university’s network on Sept. 3.
In an attempt to protect the university’s network, Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) shut down the network and canceled classes for Sept. 7. The university announced it is currently investigating the situation and will update students each day at 2 p.m. on the status of the university’s operations, as campus Wi-Fi remains down.
“Based on the investigation and the information we have to date, we know the university has experienced a ransomware cyberattack,” Howard officials said in an interim update on the situation. “ETS and its partners have been working diligently to fully address this incident and restore operations as quickly as possible; but please consider that remediation, after an incident of this kind, is a long haul – not an overnight solution.”
“We are currently working with leading external forensic experts and law enforcement to fully investigate the incident and the impact,” the update said. “To date, there has been no evidence of personal information being accessed or exfiltrated; however, our investigation remains ongoing, and we continue to work toward clarifying the facts surrounding what happened and what information has been accessed.”
University officials said they are currently in contact with the FBI and the Washington, D.C. city government regarding the cyberattack.
The university noted that a limited number of applications stored in the cloud will still be accessible to students. However, the ETS team will intentionally keep certain apps offline and unavailable to students for security purposes.
“This is a moment in time for our campus when IT security will be at its tightest,” the university said. “We recognize that there has to be a balance between access and security; but at this point in time, the university’s response will be from a position of heightened security.”
The university said it will be taking additional safety measures to protect students’ and university data from criminal actors. ETS will send out additional communication to the Howard University community over the next few days, especially surrounding information on data protection and phishing attempts.
The university’s campus is currently open to essential employees only and nonessential employees are instructed to remain home.