Howard University faced a ransomware cybersecurity attack in the first week of September. Since the attack, the University has returned to some normalcy, proceeding with in-person and hybrid classes on Sept. 14.
The University sent out an email disclosing steps to reset email passwords, so students, faculty, and staff can reaccess their accounts and connect to the internet. However, Howard did confirm that the internet is still weak in certain areas.
Luckily, Enterprise Technology Services, the provider of IT services for Howard, was able to prevent any personal information from being accessed by the hackers, and have continued to place protective measures to ensure an invasion doesn’t happen again.
The motive for the attack still remains unknown. However, with an increased use of technology, cyber security attacks have been a prominent issue since the start of the pandemic.
According to Varonis, a cyber security company, 88% of organizations worldwide experienced spear phishing attempts in 2019. Spear phishing is a scheme in which scammers pretend to be trusted senders in order to get confidential information out of the receivers.
Frank Tramble, Vice President of Howard Communications, disclosed how the University resolved the issue and measures to prevent another attack.
“We evoked the University’s incident response plan. Since that time, we have contained the threat and are restoring operations within the constraints of our hardened security strategy,” said Tramble. “Our IT team continues to work diligently to harden security within our operations.”
Since the investigation is still ongoing, the University plans to share more updates with the community at a later date.
Although the campus internet is restored, there are still some difficulties for professors and students.
“I haven’t been able to get to my old routine. I’ve still been having difficulties connecting to the wifi. I’ll go in and out throughout class,” said freshman biology major Malana Baez.
The WiFi outage disrupted the entire campus, and continues to influence the semester. Dr. Christine McWhorter, an assistant professor, spoke about the lasting effects of the outage.
“There’s still connectivity issues. The cyberattack lasted one week, but it put our courses back three weeks,” said McWhorter. “We’ve had to allow time for students to learn what they didn’t learn and put that into practice.”
Though this has been a trying time for the Howard community, students have still found ways to press forward and finish coursework despite the difficulty. Latanya Khissy Beyniouah, a freshman computer science major, describes how she is able to stay on top of her work.
“I’ve walked to Whole Foods because I heard through GroupMe that it’s good [service], and if that’s full, I’ll try Potbelly or Mcdonald’s,” said Beyniouah. “But, a week and a half ago, I found out about the writing center, and I was going there.”
Enterprise Technology Services has been working tirelessly to assure students and faculty can proceed with their everyday routines. Howard University President Wayne A.I. Frederick took a moment to acknowledge the work that the Enterprise Technology Services does in a recent email.
“On behalf of our entire campus community, I would like to express my sincerest and most deeply felt gratitude to all the members of our Enterprise Technology Services team and all our IT professionals,” said Frederick.
The Howard community is still working to recover from the attack, and is doing their best to continue with normal operation.