This time the cybercriminals have set the aim on the education sector. Recently, three prestigious educational institutions were allegedly hit upon by a ransomware attack.
The bid to get into the one of top U.S colleges can change the lives of students from around the world. However, the competition is high and the admission procedure is highly complicated. With the addition of ransomware, students have to contend with another stumbling block.
Cybersecurity and ransomware removal experts from the International Institute of Cybersecurity have confirmed that the attack has affected the information of applicants that belong to three universities. Moreover, they have been identified as private educational institutions. These universities are Oberlin, Grinnell, and Hamilton.
Applicants who have applied in these universities are expected to receive ransom notes from a hacker’s group. These file mentioned that the admission files of the applicants have been hacked. Upon some digging by experts, it was unveiled that all of these three universities have a common factor—they all the use the same system for data management, known as Slate. Slate monitors and records the requests of the prospective students who apply to these universities.
So far, it is believed that the hackers were able to infect the following data.
- The personal information like name, social security numbers, residence, contact information, etc.
- The notes from the university’ admission department.
- The reports of the applicants.
- The status of the applicants.
According to one of the cybersecurity analysts, the demand for payment is $4K USD. This ransom has to be sent in the form of the popular cryptocurrency, bitcoin. Negotiations were held with these institutions and in the end, the cybercriminals agreed to a sub-100$ demand.
The ransomware threat remains alive and it keep on increasing with the passage of time. The cybercriminals in these attacks have especially targeted hospitals and banks in the past few years. However, this type of attack on the admission departments of universities is unheard of. It is possible that such attacks can become trendy in future.
According to the media cells of Oberlin and Grinnell, they have not found a valid piece of evidence which can confirm the attack on their premises. However, they plan to investigate the incident. Hamilton, on the other side, has already admitted that they have been attacked.
Experts who were involved in the ransomware removal process of this attack state that those who have been attacked should ignore any email which seems fraudulent in nature. Law enforcement authorities have taken up the reins of the case to investigate the hackers.