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Cyberattack Triggers a Service Outage at Hartnell College

Chelsy Pham reported that the network had high levels of activity.
In reaction to a potential cybersecurity attack, Hartnell College's governing board conducted an urgent meeting on Wednesday evening to address the ongoing network outage at the institution.

The college's security system detected unusual behavior at 6 a.m. on Sunday, prompting Hartnell Vice President of Technology Chelsy Pham to take precautions and shut down the college's servers at around 8 a.m. Pham reported that the network had high levels of activity, which is unusual for a Sunday morning.

The main school in Salinas as well as the satellite campuses in East Salinas, Soledad, Castroville, and King City were all affected by the outage. According to Pham, the satellite campuses' internet was disabled out of an abundance of caution.

On Monday, there was no postponement of classes and the school's services were still available. Even though classes were still in session on Wednesday, students who depend heavily on the internet while on campus find the outage to be a hassle.

According to Pham, the college is striving to gradually reactivate the network. Although some lab and classroom conditions have to be changed, lessons have not been disrupted because the school's online teaching platform, Canvas, is up and running.

The college's phone system is still down as of now, but emails and text messages are still being delivered, according to Pham. Pham stated that there is no set date when the network will be completely functioning once more, but the college is undertaking extra efforts to get the system back up. 

The FBI issued a warning to K–12 institutions in 2020 over the continuation of ransomware attacks and data thefts into the 2020–2021 academic year. Data from the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center show that K–12 schools were implicated in 57 percent of all ransomware attacks reported to the organization in August and September, up from 28 percent from January through July.

Although the public was not permitted to join Hartnell's emergency governing board meeting where the current problem was reviewed, Gutierrez said the college is preparing a statement to release in the coming days. 

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which compelled colleges and school districts to rely on technology to instruct students, such attacks have grown to be a major threat to American institutions.
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