Government officials investigate Howard University ransomware cyberattack

Howard University officials along with leading cyber experts are trying to assess what was compromised in an active ransomware cyber attack on the HBCU campus. Authorities called the attack criminal.

Photograph of the Howard University campus. (Photo: Jessica Floyd)

The prestigious black university in Washington, DC issued a statement to students that “the disruption was caused by a cyber ransomware attack on the university.”

Classes have been canceled for Tuesday and Wednesday at the institution which has several former students who are dignitaries from all sectors, including the vice president Kamala harris. Students have been advised that online and hybrid courses will remain canceled and only essential staff are allowed on campus. However, all experiential undergraduate, graduate, professional, and in-person clinical courses will resume as scheduled on Wednesday.

Howard University officials are calling it a “moment-to-moment” situation as they tackle the cyberattack and continue to update the community. The Grio can confirm from sources that government officials and law enforcement agencies are investigating the case.

Beyond courses, universities across the country are using their cybersystems to track enrollments, tuition fees, donations, institutional information, social security numbers, bank account information, and more.

Cyber ​​security expert who wishes not to be identified says leGrio that ransomware attacks take “personally identifiable information (PII) for money” hostage. PII data includes social security information, dates of birth, and credit cards used by cybercriminals to perform identity theft. The expert claims that hackers resell personal data on the dark web after shutting down a system to force the victim to pay a ransom.

Scammers illegally acquired funds for the unemployed (Photo: Adobe Stock)

A ransomware attack is as easy as opening an unintentional link, such as an email that can take on the identity of someone you know. To be clever in their approach, hackers would target human behavior rather than computers. People are encouraged to use different passwords on all accounts and to avoid clicking on suspicious links.

The expert claims that cyber attacks are at a level of sophistication that can even create bogus students for online courses and bolster rosters despite the person not even showing up to class or even existing.

The Grio spoke with HBCU presidents who wish to remain anonymous to avoid being the target of hackers. They expressed fears that increasing large donations to HBCUs would increase the risk of attacks on campus computer networks.

Howard University fall semester 2021 students learn both online and virtually. Some programs have recently moved to online sessions. Blended learning this semester is not specifically the result of COVID-19 but in part a way to adapt to new ways of learning.

University officials could not speak to leGrio because this is an ongoing investigation. However, Emerson daniel, a Howard University junior is frustrated by the attack.

Students walking on Howard University campus
Students walking on the Howard University campus. (Photo: Jessica Floyd)

“Obviously, it’s unexpected,” said Daniel. “Considering the current climate we find ourselves in and the state of the nation, this is not completely shocking.”

This cyberattack comes just weeks after the president Joe biden invited a delegation of HBCU representatives and black tech experts to come and discuss cybersecurity attacks, which are considered the greatest threat to the United States. Coincidentally, this week is also National HBCU Week at the White House. At the end of the week, a senior White House official is expected to visit Hampton University to highlight HBCUs and STEM education.

Over the years there have been many calls for black people to be engaged and employed in this industry which would prevent what happened to Howard.

Carmen walters, said the president of Collège Tougalou leGrio, “All of our HBCUs understand the need for this and prepare our students to take their rightful place in this industry.”

Nikole Hannah-Jones

On the Howard University campus, students tell leGrio that due to the security breach, the campus Wi-Fi was also shut down, much to the chagrin of the students. The ordeal left young academics inactive on campus doing nothing until the university took control of the cyberattack and its ramifications.

“I’m just concerned that all of our information is safe and secure, because Howard literally has all of our information – and a lot of our money,” freshman Amir O’Neil Recount leGrio.

“We haven’t been able to have classes for three days,” said one student Iyanuolwa Awomuse.

Awomuse said leGrio that after the first two weeks of “hectic” classes, the current dropout on campus gives students “the opportunity to calm down”, but added: “We are concerned for the safety of the school, so we hope that this can be resolved as soon as possible. as possible.

Jessica Floyd of theGrio contributed to this report.

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