Ransomware Attack Causes Community College to Suspend Classes

  • By Patrick Ryan
  • May 05, 2022

Kellogg Community College has suspended classes at its five campuses after being targeted by a nasty ransomware attack. The ransomware offensive affected nearly 9,000 students at the college’s campuses in Hastings, Albion, Battle Creek, Fort Custer Industrial Park, and Coldwater, Michigan. Kellogg administrators have suspended all classes until further notice. It is also interesting to note that the campuses listed above provide housing in addition to classes for local students.

What Are the Details of the Attack?

The tech problems at Kellogg began last Friday. However, college administrators did not tie the tech problems to a ransomware attack until two days later. The college’s systems are still in limbo as of today. The college’s official statement notes that it has suffered extensive tech challenges after a ransomware attack.  

Kellogg’s internal team has been working hand-in-hand with IRT specialists to mitigate the impact of the attack. The hope is that the college’s systems can be brought back online, so classes and other operations return to normal within a week or less.

Why Were Classes Suspended?

Kellogg’s administrators state that classes have been suspended so the college’s tech team can investigate the incident. The response team will gauge the extent of the attack, work to resolve the situation, and reopen the five campuses once it is safe to do so.

What is the College’s Immediate Response to the Attack?

Kellogg’s immediate response consists of adding more digital security measures to thwart additional illegitimate access to the network. Kellogg will conduct a forced password reset for staffers, instructors, and students. The college will also disconnect each of the five campuses, keeping internal systems offline until its internal IT team determines they are secure for operation. However, this precautionary measure will prevent access to services related to the college, including web-based classes and emails. Such limited access is a major issue for students as the end-of-semester exams are right around the corner.

When Will Kellogg be Back Online?

If everything goes as planned, Kellogg will return to online classes and other web-based activities by the end of this week.

Which Ransomware Group is Behind the Attack?

Kellogg refused to provide information when asked to identify the group responsible for the ransomware attack. However, there is some talk that BlackCat, also known as Alphv, is responsible for the attack. BlackCat is a rebranding of BlackMatter, also known as DarkSide. BlackCat has also targeted other universities, including North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and Florida International University. In fact, BlackCat insists it stole more than a terabyte of data from Florida International University.  

A threat specialist with Emsisoft, Brett Callow, recently stated BlackCat has heightened its targeting of postsecondary educational institutions. Callow notes that nearly a dozen colleges and eight school districts in the United States have been hit by ransomware in the new year. All in all, more than 200 schools have been compromised by ransomware, and we are only five months into 2022.  

According to Callow, information was stolen in 11 of the 18 ransomware hacks to start the year. Emsisoft also notes that nearly 90 organizations in the country’s education sector were hit by ransomware last year. Those attacks disrupted more than 1,000 schools.

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