College shuttered after 157 years due to ransomware attack

College shuttered after 157 years due to ransomware attack

While ransomware wasn’t the only thing behind the decision to close Lincoln College, located in rural Illinois and established in 1865, it was the final blow after taking substantial financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The school, which had survived through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, two world wars and even a fire in 1912 will close its doors for good on May 13th, 2022.

The ransomware attack which occurred in December 2021 crippled their recruiting and fundraising efforts for two months, not being resolved until March 2022 as a statement on the school’s website reads.

“Furthermore, Lincoln College was a victim of a cyberattack in December 2021 that thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections. All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable.

Fortunately, no personal identifying information was exposed. Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections displayed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.”

The school made attempts to avoid the closure, but the efforts came too late, and we’re sorry to say they’re far from unique in being a school that was targeted by a cyberattack. According to this report over 1043 schools suffered ransomware attacks in 2021.

Cyber criminals don’t think twice when targeting schools, hospitals, and infrastructure that’s needed by the community. We reported on the on Colonial Pipeline hack that created a major disruption at gas stations across eastern US last May.

Schools and hospitals are appealing targets because investing in cyber security measures is not generally a priority and they often store large amounts of PII (Personal Identifying Information) in their systems.

Many senators have taken note of this and have called on the Department of Homeland Security to instate measures that would bolster the security of our schools, especially K-12.

A ransomware payment isn’t the only thing attackers stand to gain when they successfully infiltrate a network, here’s a chart with the way hackers “double dip” from during their attacks:

Hacker Motivations Infographic

In the end Lincoln College did choose to pay the ransom to gain control of their systems again, but it sadly made no difference in saving the college.

60% of businesses close within 6 months following a ransomware attack, and only half businesses have a cyber response plan available to quickly respond to an attack. The slow response time will only add insult to injury as you try to get back on your feet and as we’ve seen in this case, it can be fatal to your business.

Valley Techlogic can help you not only have a contingency plan in place, but also help you enact cyber security measures in your business that will prevent an attack from occurring in the first place. Learn more today through a quick consultation.

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