Century-old university shuts down over ransomware attack

While Lincoln College, a liberal-arts school, faced many difficulties, cybercrime was the final nail in the organization’s coffin.

Established in 1865 survived many challenges, the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, and the 2008 global financial crisis.

However, modern crime coupled with the coronavirus pandemic was too much to take.

A message on the school’s website claims that Lincoln College suffered from a cyberattack last December. The incident thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to institutional data.

“All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable. Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed,” reads the statement.

Once services were restored, the school’s administration noticed significant enrollment shortfalls that required a significant financial injection to stay afloat.

“Lincoln College has been serving students from across the globe for more than 157 years. The loss of history, careers, and a community of students and alumni is immense,” said David Gerlach, president of Lincoln College.

Favored by cybercriminals

The education sector is among the most targeted by ransomware cartels. A recent report by Sophos shows that only the IT and Finance sectors are targeted more often than education.

A staggering 44% of education institutions claim to have suffered from ransomware in 2021. Hackers succeeded in encrypting data for 58% of victims. More than a third of all victims agreed to pay the ransom.

While the average ransom payment stood at over $112 thousand, the total bill for dealing with the fallout of a cyber attack averaged $2.73 million, a hefty sum for any organization.

One reason why ransomware gangs target universities is that education institutions are often poorly protected against cyber threats.

Universities also have a steady stream of people enrolling every year, enriching databases with credentials and personal information. Hackers target the education sector to harvest that data and later sell it on the dark web.

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