Sunderland University was last week hit by “extensive IT disruption” which has “all the hallmarks of a cyberattack”, but a fix date is not yet known.
Crucial telephone, website and IT systems have been taken down but face-to-face teaching continues as far as possible, it said. The university was working with local police and other agencies to find out what happened. “We take the security of our systems extremely seriously and will work to resolve the situation as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson said.
Sir David Bell, the Vice-Chancellor of Sunderland University said “we just don’t know” when disruption caused by a “major cyberattack” will be fixed. In a video message on a temporary website, Sir Bell said the attack was “particularly upsetting” as the university recovered from the pandemic. “We are working as hard we can to resolve the situation,” he said.
Sir Bell then went on to say students and teachers had “adjusted well” to life after the COVID-19 lockdowns and “campuses have been much more vibrant, so it has been particularly upsetting that our university has been hit by a major cyberattack,” the Vice-Chancellor said, adding: “As a result, we’ve experienced extensive interruption to our IT systems and services for the last few days.
“The obvious question is how long will this situation last? The honest answer at the moment is we just don’t know.” He said “outside experts” were being consulted and the university was “doing all we can” to maintain teaching and “protect the data we hold”.
Newcastle and Northumbria Universities were targeted by hackers in September last year as the National Cyber Security Centre warned of a spike in attacks on educational institutions.