Queen's University takes 'precautions' after cyber-attack attempt

By Robbie Meredith & Eve Rosato
BBC News NI

Published
Image source, Creative Commons

Queen's University in Belfast (QUB) has had to suspend access to "a number of university systems" as a precaution following an attempted cyber-attack.

The university said, though, there was "currently no evidence" that any data had been stolen.

Queen's also said that investigations into the attack were ongoing.

The UK's cyber-security agency said it was "aware" of an incident affecting Queen's University and was "working to fully understand its impact".

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) also said that "the university has already confirmed the immediate operational impact has been mitigated".

The NCSC has previously warned of rising numbers of cyber-attacks on colleges and universities in the UK.

The centre issued an alert at the start of the 2020-21 academic year after a spike in attacks on educational institutions.

In its statement, Queen's said that the attempted cyber-attack had taken place on Wednesday 24 February.

"The university suspended access to a number of university systems as a precautionary measure following an attempted cyber-attack," it said.

"Unfortunately, these kind of attacks against large organisations are not uncommon.

Image source, Getty Images

"The university has in place robust security measures which mitigated the immediate operational impact and there is currently no evidence of any exfiltration of data.

"The university applied a range of precautionary measures, including the suspension of access, and these were lifted where possible after relevant investigations were complete."

Queen's said it had liaised with the relevant authorities and was carrying out an assessment of any future risks.

Future risks

"The university understands that other organisations have applied their own precautionary measures and supports them in doing so," it added.

It is not yet clear which organisations the university is referring to. However, Queen's said it took seriously its responsibility to protect its systems and data.

"Students, staff and partners should be confident that the university will continue to work with relevant partners and authorities to complete the required investigations and apply necessary measures to protect against any future risks," the university statement said.