As reported by Sky NewsSky News, Newcastle University is being held to ransom by cyber criminals in an attack which has been disrupting IT systems since the beginning of the month. The cyber crime group behind the attack – known as DoppelPaymer – previously leaked documents online relating to Elon Musk’s companies SpaceX and Tesla.
The criminals have posted stolen files from the university online and are threatening to release more, exposing student and staff data unless they receive a ransom payment, according to a post on Twitter and their darkweb site. The university says it has alerted the UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office, as well as the police. In a statement on its website, the university said “it will take several weeks” to address the issues, and that many IT services will not be operating.
With catastrophic timing, this is not only a warning shot to Newcastle University, it is also a wake up call for all similar organisations to be alert for similar attacks.
Students must be made aware of the breach and remain vigilant to further attacks where existing stolen data could be used to siphon further, more sensitive data.
Ransomware and data exfiltration is becoming the new go-to attack and can demand huge payouts – even when the targeted organisation has the correct backup procedures in place.
Staff must be reminded of the dangers and treat attachments and links with the upmost caution.