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Hartnell College Confirms Ransomware Attack

The California college shut down its network earlier this month after detecting suspicious activity on a Sunday morning. Administrators are working with a third party to determine whether information was compromised.

(TNS) — The suspicious activity that forced Hartnell College to shut down its servers last week was an attempted ransomware attack, the college confirmed.

“Currently, Hartnell College is working with third-party forensic incident response specialists and federal law enforcement to investigate this incident,” a Hartnell press release stated. “We are currently working with our third-party incident response partners to determine the nature and scope of the activity. Should our investigation determine information on our network was compromised, we will provide notification as required.”

The college’s security system picked up on suspicious activity at around 6 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, prompting Hartnell to take precautionary measures and shut down its network at around 8 a.m.

Hartnell’s vice president of technology, Chelsy Pham, previously told the Herald that the unusually high level of activity early Sunday morning alerted the system.

“When we see high activities, typically it’s classes going on, but for a Sunday morning at 7, that’s suspicious,” Pham explained. “So our system actually picked up (on it) and told us, ‘hey, there’s something going on, you might want to check it out.’”

The college worked to slowly bring the network back online last week. The school’s online teaching platform, Canvas, wasn’t affected, but the college’s phone system, email and text notifications were down for most of the week.

The press release confirmed that parts of the college’s network will continue to be unavailable in order to mitigate risk.

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