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Suspected Cyber Attack Closes Northern Essex CC

Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts shut down its Haverhill and Lawrence campuses Monday while it worked with law enforcement and conducted a full systems audit to assess the damage.

Cyber attack
(TNS) — Northern Essex Community College campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence will be closed Monday due to what is believed to be a cyber attack.

College officials were working over the weekend to resolve the problem and said they hoped to reopen as safely and as quickly as possible. As of Sunday afternoon, the college's website was down.

Melissa Bouse, director of public relations, said the college recently became aware of a network interruption issue affecting its computer systems.

"Upon learning of this issue, we began working closely with law enforcement and cybersecurity professionals to conduct a forensic investigation," she said. "The college took immediate steps to secure its environment and initiate an initial investigation to evaluate the scope of the incident."

She said it appeared to be a cyber attack. The college was conducting a full systems audit to determine exactly which systems may have been affected and what impact, if any, there was on student and employee information.

Bouse said Sunday afternoon that the college had no evidence this incident resulted in unauthorized access to personal information.

"In the event the investigation determines that personally identifiable information was compromised, appropriate notifications will be made, including contacting impacted individuals directly with guidance and next steps," she said. "The college continues to recommend persistent digital safety and vigilance, which includes regularly changing passwords.

"We are taking this matter very seriously," Bouse added. "At this time, we do not have further information to share, but our priority is to quickly resolve this incident and keep the college community apprised of relevant developments."

The college became aware of unauthorized access to its network about Wednesday, Bouse said.

The college immediately launched an investigation in consultation with law enforcement and cybersecurity professionals to determine the extent of any compromise to the information on its network, she said.

"While we continue to seek further resolution of this incident and will notify any impacted individuals directly with guidance, our community can always take steps to protect ourselves from cybersecurity incidents including: changing all passwords, including bank accounts, credit cards, and other financial institutions; reviewing financial statements and watching for suspicious activity; regularly monitoring credit reports and reporting suspicious activity or unauthorized charges to banks or financial institutions.

Students and employees can also visit to take a few simple steps to protect their personal information and stay vigilant. The government website provides a variety of resources about what to do in the event personal information is lost or stolen.

©2023 The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.