No personal information taken from Sask. Polytechnic cybersecurity attack

It has been nearly 15 weeks since the cybersecurity incident that affected Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s online services and systems.

Cheryl Schmitz, who serves as the chief financial officer and vice-president of administrative services at Sask. Polytechnic, provided more details of the attack on Thursday morning during a virtual media availability. She explained how malware was launched from a malicious email that was opened on Oct. 30, resulting in the post-secondary school shutting down its systems.

Employees and students were notified by email to stop using computers; external cybersecurity experts were brought in and law enforcement was alerted. The attack brought down much of the school’s online operations including a temporary stoppage of classes.

Schmitz said they cannot speculate about the intent of the incident, and they may never know why it happened.

“The investigation done by our external experts has found no evidence that any personal information was taken,” stated Schmitz. “The law enforcement file remains open and we will co-operate in any way requested.”

She mentioned the school did not pay any ransom.

“We never had any contact with the individual or individuals responsible for the cybersecurity attack, but we are not prepared to comment further on the technical aspects of this incident.”

Schmitz added that online security has since been increased for students and staff, including additional information so people know how to identify malicious emails and anti-virus software for workers.

The majority of online services have been restored for students and employees, however some services may not be offered in the same way they were prior to the attack. Schmitz said some additional functionalities are still being worked on.

“Areas such as our bookstore, student awards and other parts of the website, along with the functionality within our administration system,” explained Schmitz. “With respect to our continuing education registrations, right now those courses are having registration done by phone.”

She hopes online registration will be up and running for continuing education students in the coming weeks.

The school doesn’t expect graduation for any of their students will be affected by the attack. Schmitz could not estimate how much money the incident will cost Sask. Polytechnic.

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