Key IT systems at the University of Portsmouth continue to remain offline this week after a supposed ransomware attack, delaying the start of the new term.
A notice on the university’s homepage doesn’t explicitly name ransomware as the cause of the “cyber incident,” but the “ongoing technical disruption” it describes is a tell-tale sign of such attacks. However, The News has reported that it has seen an email from the university claiming it suffered a ransomware attack.
“This has affected some of our IT systems, which remain offline whilst we work with expert support to investigate the issue and securely restore these systems,” the notice said.
“As part of this, we have taken the decision to close down many of our services in order to best protect our systems and information while the investigation is underway.”
Although it was due to open on Monday for the start of the summer term, the university campus will continue to remain closed to students until Wednesday, according to a BBC report.
It also claimed that police had been notified about the incident.
“We are working with an experienced cybersecurity forensic firm to address the issue and to investigate and remedy the incident as quickly as we can,” the homepage notice concluded. “This is a complex issue and we appreciate your patience while we resolve this matter.”
It is also an issue which has faced countless higher education institutions in the UK and abroad over recent months and years, as cyber-criminals have relentlessly targeted a sector they see as under-resourced and vulnerable to extortion.
Last week we reported how the University of Hertfordshire in southern England suffered a major ransomware-related outage taking down its network for days.
A report last year claimed that a third of UK universities have been hit with ransomware over the past decade.
Such attacks threaten to impact what was a thriving sector of the UK economy pre-COVID, with a market size of nearly £41 billion. Situated on Britain’s south coast, Portsmouth University has around 25,000 students.