Students at Howard University will enjoy an extended Labor Day weekend after the historically Black university was forced to cancel classes on September 7. In a brief statement, the university explained that it had been the victim of a "ransomware cyberattack." As a result, Wi-Fi will remain down on campus until further notice.
"On September 3, 2021, the Howard University information technology team detected unusual activity on the University’s network. In accordance with our cyber response protocol, and to mitigate potential criminal activity, Enterprise Technology Services (ETS) intentionally shut down the University’s network to investigate the situation. The situation is still being investigated, but we are writing to provide an interim update and to share as much information as we safely and possibly can at this point in time, considering that our emails are often shared within a public domain," the university wrote in a brief statement.
"Based on the investigation and the information we have to date, we know the University has experienced a ransomware cyberattack. 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. 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."
Unfortunately, "ransomware" attacks are not entirely uncommon in the area. Last September, DCist reported that hackers targeted Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia and published sensitive material on the dark web. More recently, hackers took 250 gigabytes of files and data from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. In both cases, no cuplrits were apprehended.
The situation at Howard University is still being investigated and updates will be provided later this afternoon.