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Xavier University Might Have Lost Personal Data in Hack

Louisiana’s Xavier University is warning faculty and students that the cyber attack last month might have compromised their personal information. The extent of the exposure remains unknown, officials say.

(TNS) — Xavier University's computer network was hit by a cyberattack last month, potentially compromising students and employees' personal information, according to an email sent Thursday to students and staff.

University President Reynold Verret said in the email that a network disruption on Nov. 22 prompted Xavier to hire cybersecurity experts to investigate. The disruption was determined to be an "encryption event," Verret said. "We have since learned that malicious actors claimed to have stolen personal information from students and employees during the event."

Verret added that officials are now identifying and notifying those who might have had their data stolen.


It's not clear how many individuals were affected, or when students and staff were first notified of the breach. Verret didn't say whether the theft of personal information had been confirmed beyond the hackers' assertions.

It's also not clear what type of personal information had been stolen, or whether the attackers had demanded a ransom, as is often the case when institutions' networks are compromised.

Verret said Xavier "continued working to safely and securely restore our network," although he did not say when it was fully restored.

The university did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.


The attack appeared to be part of a continuing wave of cyber attacks against schools and colleges in the United States. Last year, the FBI issued an alert that ransomware is increasingly targeting educational institutions. A wave of attacks this year in April year hit at least nine colleges and universities. Attackers directly contacted Knox College students in Galesburg, Illinois, this month, purporting to have caused the college's recent network disruptions and threatening to leak personal information.

Public elementary and secondary school systems have been targeted as well. The Los Angeles Unified School District was attacked over Labor Day and refused to pay a ransom, after which hackers leaked almost 300,000 files containing personal data.

New Orleans municipal government suffered a ransomware attack in 2019, forcing City Hall to shut down all of its systems and halt some services. City officials said no ransom was paid, but it took about a year and cost more than $5 million to recover from the attack.

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