Community Colleges Newest Victims of Cyber Hacks

Media Division | January 6, 2017

A recent cyber attack over the holiday weekend upon Los Angeles Valley Community College had left them frantically working to get several systems back online.  On December 30th, a virus was discovered within the college computer systems, which was identified to be ransomware.  According to a statement released by L.A. Valley College President Erika A. Endrijonas, the attack appears to have been random targeting at this point.

Ransomware Becoming Much More Prominent

The infection has resulted in the disruption of several online, computer, voice mail, and email systems.  According to the statement, the ransomware virus was detected in the system within hours by a cyber security protocol that the district has in place.  The incident was then reported to the LA County Sheriff’s Department, and has now been passed to the Department of Fraud and Cyber Crimes Bureau. Officials have remained relatively tight lipped about the exact details of the attack.  They have not stated how much was being demanded by the ransomware to unlock the school’s systems.

At this current time, there has been no identified data breach of students or staff of the college, though the investigation has not been completed as of yet.  Endrijonas writes, “LACCD and LAVC information technology staff, outside cybersecurity experts and law enforcement are working together to determine the specific nature and impact of this incident. Our top priority is the integrity of student, faculty and employee data, and we will continue to communicate with the LAVC community and the public as the investigation proceeds.”

The website had been taken offline as a result of the attack as well, though was returned to service on New Year’s Day.  The college does not have a timeframe as to when computers and other communications services will be restored, but they are currently working on resolving the issue.  At this time, even though systems are still being worked on, classes have resumed their regular schedule for students of the college.  This also includes online education courses that an independent statewide system runs.

Ransomware has become a much more prominently employed attack over the past couple years.  It is being increasingly discovered within systems of many types of organizations.  In the first 3 months of 2016 alone, ransomware had collected $209 million dollars in payments to unlock systems, according to estimates from the FBI.  These attacks continued well throughout the year, and it brings concern as to what the expansion of ransomware will be in 2017.  Organizations will need to remain vigilant, and maintain proper cyber security to prevent and mitigate these types of attacks.

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