Myerscough College hit by 'devastating' cyber attack on GCSE results day

Hundreds of students were unable to find out their GCSE results after a huge cyber attack on Myerscough College.

By Matthew Calderbank
Friday, 21st August 2020, 8:18 am
Updated Friday, 21st August 2020, 8:34 am

The college, near Bilsborrow, has described yesterday's (August 20) cyber attack as 'devastating' after it severely damaged all of its IT infrastructure on the morning of GCSE Results Day.

Myerscough said hackers had launched an denial-of-service (DOS) attack on servers using malicious ransomware in an attempt to extort money from the college.

Staff and students lost all access to college PCs, websites and email, and this meant hundreds of GCSE students were unable to find out their exam results.

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But the college reassured students that no personal or financial details had been compromised, with this information safely stored on external servers.

Staff at the college are understood to have worked extremely hard throughout the day and into the evening, emailing hundreds of students individually with their exam results.

Lancashire Police's Cyber Crime Unit is now investigating the incident.

In a statement to students, Myerscough College said: "Today has been among the most challenging days in College history following this morning's devastating cyber attack which has severely damaged all IT infrastructure: our website, our ability to email, staff access to our PCs, as well as, of course, student access to their results have all been affected.

Myerscough College, near Bilsborrow, Preston. Pic: Google

"Today's cyber attack did not compromise any confidential data. We can confirm that we are in dialogue with Lancashire Police's Cyber Crime Unit and an investigation is underway.

"To those who are still eagerly awaiting their results: we are so sorry for the inconvenience and we understand that today's incident is upsetting for our students who could not access their grades on results day, nor could they celebrate their grades today after working so hard to attain them.

"Our staff are working hard getting hundreds and hundreds of emails out individually and to repair the damage caused.

"It may take time but we will never anyone behind with regards to getting their results."

Lancashire Police has been approached for comment.

In July 2019, Lancaster University was targeted by hackers who breached its IT systems and accessed student records.

The 'sophisticated and malicious phishing attack' led to fraudulent invoices being sent to some undergraduate applicants demanding large sums of money.

'Ransomware' attacks on higher education institutions appear to be increasing and a number of colleges in the United States have recently been targeted, with hackers demanding huge payouts in Bitcoin to restore access to IT systems and the safe return of confidential data.