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College Communication

Cyber Attack – Update for Students and Parents

Further to the information we posted last week (see below), we wanted to provide students and parents with a brief update on the cyber security incident experienced by Peterborough College. We’re really thankful to our IT teams who swiftly contained the cyberattack and have worked around the clock to restore some of the systems that were impacted. Thankfully, the incident did not have any material impact on teaching and learning and, while our investigation is ongoing, there is currently no evidence to suggest that any data was taken.

While externally you may not have experienced much disruption, some of our IT infrastructure was impacted and we have a comprehensive plan in place to rebuild those systems, using clean back-ups. We’ve brought in some external IT experts and temporary staff to assist with this, with the aim of having all systems restored by the end of the Easter holidays. Students will have seen that where possible, we’ve activated temporary workaround solutions – for example, earlier this week we created a system through which pupils can access Library Resources. We’re grateful to all our staff who have pulled together behind the scenes to ensure none of this has affected exam week.

There has been coverage in the news this week that the education sector is currently experiencing an increase in cyber attacks, and while we’re pleased this incident is contained, we want to reassure you that we’ll be taking advice on any additional steps we can take to further strengthen our systems. We also notified the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office), the National Cyber Security Centre and police, as well the relevant educational bodies and local authorities. If you do have queries on this matter, please contact the College on info@peterborough.ac.uk

Published 26th March 2021

Cyber Attack – Information for Students and Parents

On Monday 15 March Inspire Education Group was subject to a concerted ransomware cyberattack, initiated overseas.  This is entirely based at the Peterborough campus and has impacted Peterborough College and University Centre Peterborough only. This appears to be part of a succession of cyberattacks in UK education institutions.

A ransomware attack encrypts and ‘locks’ systems and data and then the organised criminals demand a substantial ransom for the decryption key and for the systems to be released. We are aware that cyberattacks have been on the increase within the education sector for some time and as a result have a managed cyber security response service which enabled us to catch the attack early. Nevertheless, there will continue to be an impact in the weeks ahead.

Our IT Team have been working around the clock with our Cybersecurity Managed Threat Response team at Sophos (our managed service provider) to limit the impact as much as we possibly can.  We have reported the attack to all relevant organisations including the National Cyber Security Centre, Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), Office for Students (HE regulator), Action Fraud, and our insurers.

There is no evidence at all of a data breach / data extraction, but we are notifying the Information Commissioner’s Office in any case.

We have been able to mitigate the situation to some extent, in that the encryption only reached part of our systems before we were able to shut down the attack. The attack has now ceased and we are developing our recovery plan. However, we are likely to be without many of our internally hosted systems over the next 2-3 weeks as we rebuild them using safe backups.

We are working hard to minimise the impact on our students. All cloud based systems are working as normal and teaching and learning therefore remains largely unaffected as we use Google Education and Canvas, both of which are fully operational and functioning. Advice for students is available via the following link: Essential Information for Students

Should students, parents, employer partners or stakeholders have any questions or concerns please raise these with your tutor or usual point of contact who will either answer your query or escalate.

Thank you all for your patience during this difficult time.

Published 19th March 2021