Large Sum of Money Stolen from Trinity College Dublin in Cyber Attack

Media Division | May 1, 2017

Cyber attacks can be targeted at a wide variety of different assets.  Some of them attempt to purloin various types of data for the purpose of fraud, identity theft, or selling the information.  Other attackers simply go straight for the bottom line, aka money.  Trinity College Dublin was recently victimized by a cyber attack which was able to exfiltrate a potentially significant amount of money.

Details of the Incident

More precisely, the money was stolen from the accounts of the Trinity Foundation, which is a charity that helps disadvantaged students.  It was initially founded in 1994 and has since raised hundreds of millions of dollars for its cause.  The Foundation was alerted to the cyber attack by its bank notifying them of suspicious account activity.  It was then discovered that it was an incident of computer fraud.  The college had stated that a portion of the funds was able to be recovered after the discovery of the incident, but a spokesperson also said that it is still too early to determine whether the remainder can be recovered.  According to a report from the Irish Sun, €1m was potentially taken in the incident, but this was not confirmed by Trinity.  They had reported the incident to the gardai, who are now conducting an investigation, though Trinity Foundation, as well as the college, are also conducting their own investigation.  There have been reports that the attack was perpetrated through emails, meaning it was likely to have been a phishing campaign.  Trinity has been somewhat tight-lipped and has not communicated any further details in regard to the incident.

Trinity is not the only college to have been victimized by a cyber attack this year.  A couple months back, there was also an incident in which LA Valley Community College was infected by ransomware.  LAVC ended up having to pay a whopping 28k for their systems to be released.  Colleges can hold a large amount of sensitive personal information of students and staff, which can be of great value to cyber attackers. Data like names, addresses, Social Security numbers can all be targets for hackers. Though, the recent attacker was obviously more keen on directly targeting the money of the connected charity, rather than purloining information.  There have also been several other instances of phishing attacks being targeted at schools this year, including several that were for the purpose of purloining employee tax documents.

The Importance of Extensive Anti-Phishing Solutions

Phishing attacks like the above continue to be an extremely common method employed by cyber attackers.  These malicious campaigns are not difficult for attackers to set up, and they continue to have a large amount of success in breaching systems and networks.  With how prominent these attacks are, an organization needs to be properly prepared for them.  They need to have appropriate defensive methods in place, but they also need to have an established set of actions to take in the event of a successful phishing attack.  These both come under the heading of anti-phishing solutions, which should be a standard in every single organization.  In the event of a phishing breach, an organization needs to be able to react immediately to address the current vulnerability, as well as pursue further actions such as tracing and eliminating the source of the attack.  Massive Alliance’s anti-phishing solutions can provide an organization ways to prevent, mitigate, and remediate phishing attacks.

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