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Napa Valley College Recovering After June Ransomware Attack

Almost a month after a cyber attack shut down its website and various other systems, the public community college has recovered phones, email and other functions while using in-person workarounds for others.

Napa Valley College.jpg
Credit: Napa Valley College Facebook page
(TNS) —The Napa Valley College website and network systems have been coming back online this week after being shut down by a ransomware attack in early June.

NVC spokesperson Holly Dawson said the website was internally accessible using on-campus Wi-Fi starting on Monday this week. It was also intermittently accessible externally on Monday and became fully accessible via off-campus Internet by Thursday, she said.

The site previously vanished from the Internet on or before June 10, when NVC officials first announced the disruption to online and phone services on the school's social media accounts. The school's phone systems are also working again, Dawson confirmed, and employee email accounts are back online.

Some systems — such as the school's Self Service portal, which allows students to register for classes or make changes to their schedule, and some areas of the website — aren't entirely back yet, but they should be returning soon, Dawson added.

With the system shutdown, the school's been carrying out some workaround efforts to serve students in the ways it usually would. NVC held an in-person event to help students register for classes on Thursday, for example — which also included counselors and help completing orientation and assessments — and an in-person enrollment open house event on Wednesday to help people with applications. The school's also been holding Zoom Q&A sessions to discuss enrollment and financial aid and on-campus offices are open to help students in person.

"We've just been really focused on how do we support our students," Dawson said.

The cyber attack delayed the college's ability to send out transcripts, but physical copies were mailed to those that ordered them this week and digital copies are being sent out to four-year colleges where NVC students are transferring. A financial aid payment to students scheduled for June 16 was also delayed because of the attack, but NVC has been sending out those payments in the past few days.

"Our number one priority was to get those financial aid disbursements out," Dawson said.

NVC has continued to teach online and in-person summer session classes during the disruption. Students didn't lose access to their email account or the student portal Canvas, where class materials are found.

An investigation into the attack is ongoing. NVC previously said it was working with the U.S. Secret Service and Homeland Security department to look into the incident. Dawson said the school administration has been and will continue holding internal meetings about the attack as the new superintendent and president of the college, Torence Powell, takes on leading the school. She said she didn't currently have anything else she could share about the attack itself.

Dawson has previously noted that other community colleges have suffered similar attacks in the past year. Interim superintendent and president Robert Frost — who's now come to the end of his six month stint leading the college — also previously said the college doesn't expect there will be a drop off in fall registrations as a result of the attack.

©2022 Napa Valley Register, Calif. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.