Hackers hit University of Virginia

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The University of Virginia’s network is back online after a cyberattack forced a weekend shutdown of the school’s servers.

Officials say that the attack appears to have originated in China. According to the university, the hackers did not access any personal data, such as Social Security numbers or personal health information, of students or staff and faculty.

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Virginia joins a growing number of universities that have been hacked. In July, Harvard University discovered an intrusion on both its faculty and administrative networks. Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland both experienced significant breaches last year.

The Maryland breach exposed the sensitive personal information of over 300,000 people and cost the school upwards of $6 million, Maryland President Wallace Loh said in testimony to the Senate.

Universities are prime targets for hackers because of the vast amounts of personal data that they store — data that is worth a considerable price on the dark web.

U.Va. engaged well-known cybersecurity firm Mandiant to “investigate the nature of the attack and to take corrective action.” The school shut down its network to patch the vulnerabilities on Friday and went back online Sunday.

“The university is in the process of upgrading security systems to further strengthen the security of data and information stored on university resources and to help prevent further cyber attacks,” said Patrick Hogan, executive vice president and COO of U.Va.

The University of Miami also experienced a cyber incident last week, when hackers released a list of about 200 faculty email addresses and passwords, some of which were encrypted. The group claimed to be the Russian cybergang CyberVor, although officials have questioned whether the hackers are imitating the real CyberVor.