University of California victim of ransomware attack

University of California victim of ransomware attack
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The University of California (UC) said Wednesday that it was the victim of a ransomware attack.

The state university system said in a statement published to its website UCNet, that its institution, along with several other government agencies, private companies and other schools have been involved in an attack through the use of Accellion, a secure filing transfer company. 

“An unauthorized individual appears to have copied and transferred UC files by exploiting a vulnerability in Accellion’s file transfer service,” according to UC. 

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The school system said it reported the incident to federal law enforcement, took measures to contain it and has begun an investigation.

UC added that officials do not believe university’s systems or networks were compromised as a result.

A ransomware attack occurs when a hacker gains access to data and threatens to hold it ransom or publish it until a monetary amount is paid. 

“We understand those behind this attack have published online screenshots of personal information, and we will notify members of the UC community if we believe their data was leaked in this manner,” the university said.

News of the attack comes after the U.S. suffered two major cyber attacks over the past year, including the SolarWinds breach. The Associated Press reported in March that hackers involved in the breach gained access to email accounts of top Department of Homeland Security officials. The incident was first discovered in December. 

The Biden administration is working to figure out the extent of the breach. 

In a follow up statement on Friday, the school said that it believed the stolen information included names, birthdates, social security numbers, and bank account information.

“The attackers are threatening to publish, or have published, stolen information on the dark web in an attempt to extort organizations and individuals,” the university said.

“We are working with local and federal law enforcement and third-party vendors to investigate this incident, to assess the information that has been compromised, to enforce the law and to limit the release of stolen information,” it continued.

Accellion first disclosed in February that its file transfer service was breached in late December, and multiple universities have recently disclosed that they were victims of a cyber attack. 

Stanford University School of Medicine said in a statement Friday that it was a victim of the cyber incident.

The Associated Press reported that Yeshiva University and the University of Maryland in Baltimore were among the schools to have been swept up in the attack.

The hack is also affecting some businesses. Kroger warned in late February that data from pharmacy customers may have been stolen.