Boston-Based Community College, Bunker Hill, Updates on 2023 Ransomware Event
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- Jan 02, 2024
Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC) serves a population of about 13,000 across two campuses and dispersed locations. BHCC offers over 100 degrees, including arts, sciences, business, health, law, and STEM opportunities. In May 2023, BHCC experienced a ransomware event—officials responded by taking their systems offline—but the threat was successful nonetheless. The assailants stole an estimated 195,588 records in their attack.
How Did the Attack Occur?
An unauthorized party accessed BHCC’s systems and deployed ransomware attack mid-May of 2023. How the assailants obtained access to BHCC’s systems is unclear; however, the date of the event may hold some significance. According to the breach filing submitted with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, the incident began one day after the global MOVEit data breach announcement by Progress Software. The coincidence could be essential—it could be that the bad actors hijacked an employee’s information in the MOVEit event; alternatively, the assailants could have used a vendor side door or an injection code to manipulate system vulnerabilities. No matter whether the criminals have access, data owners must move to protect themselves from the consequences.
What Information Was Viewed or Stolen?
The regulator notice provided to the Maine Attorney General lists data elements compromised from the breach. These elements include names, dates of birth, Social Security Numbers, state ID numbers, driver’s license numbers, alien ID numbers, passport numbers, financial account details including routing numbers and card information, college account usernames, passwords, medical details, and health insurance data. The compromised details differ between individuals, but everyone exposed in this event is at risk for data misuse.
How Did Bunker Hill Community College Admit to the Breach?
The Maine filing indicates that the event happened around May 22nd, 2023, with officials taking control the next day. BHCC launched investigations immediately after. While the investigation continued, they published a statement about the event on August 18th, 2023. The notice only offered a few details about the incident, however. BHCC’s investigations continued until their conclusion, around late December 2023. Officials began sending impact notices to individuals around December 29th.
What Will Become of the Stolen Information?
It’s challenging to determine what may happen to the stolen data; there are no indications of their motivations, and the data types don’t hint at what they might do with it. If they had stolen only medical information, victims might be more at risk for medical fraud. In BHCC’s situation, however, some of the stolen data is already public, and there are no consistencies between the data elements. Subsequently, since victims don’t know how the cybercriminals might use the data, they must protect themselves.
What Should Affected Parties Do in the Aftermath of the Breach?
Although some breached data is already public, it may still expose private data elements for some individuals. Additionally, BHCC’s statements do not allude to the groups of people impacted by this breach. The data breach may include credentials from students, staff, faculty, alums, vendors, or associates of BHCC. Regardless of your relationship with the college, consider protective data security measures.
Change and update all account passwords and contact information; if individuals can change account data, consider altering it. Next, enable all security options wherever possible, including multi-factor authentications and credit freeze phone triggers. Invest in account monitoring services for solitary or rarely accessed accounts. Finally, start reviewing monthly and quarterly statements from organizations, healthcare providers, and financial institutions.