Howard University, located in Washington D.C., was forced to cancel classes the day after Labor Day as the school became the latest institute of higher learning to face a ransomware attack. During the first week of the month, Howard's information technology department intentionally shut down the school's network after detecting what they called "unusual activity."
"Based on the investigation and the information we have to date," the university said in a statement, "we know [we have] experienced a ransomware cyberattack. To date, there has been no evidence of personal information being accessed or exfiltrated; however, our investigation remains ongoing."
According to intelligence analyst Allan Liska while speaking with the Daily Beast, Howard is the 19th college or university attacked in 2021.
Due to the attack, the school canceled classes and kept its wi-fi networks offline.
"This is a highly dynamic situation, and it is our priority to protect all sensitive personal, research and clinical data," the school said in an update posted on their website. "We are in contact with the FBI and the D.C. city government, and we are installing additional safety measures to further protect the University’s and your personal data from any criminal ciphering."
Firm Comparitech has released research tracking Ransomware incidents in schools and colleges since 2018. Among their findings is that since 2018, "3,880 individual schools and colleges have been potentially impacted and nearly 3.04 million students," with the average downtime in 2019 and 2020 to be close to a week.
According to Newsweek, there "have been over $16.8 million in losses due to ransomware attacks" this year alone.