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Police probe after cyber attack shuts South West College

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Services at the Tyrone and Fermanagh-based South West College were seriously disrupted by the attack, reported to the PSNI on March 15, which left the college's IT system out of operation

Services at the Tyrone and Fermanagh-based South West College were seriously disrupted by the attack, reported to the PSNI on March 15, which left the college's IT system out of operation

PA

Services at the Tyrone and Fermanagh-based South West College were seriously disrupted by the attack, reported to the PSNI on March 15, which left the college's IT system out of operation

Police are investigating after a Further and Higher Education College was forced to close all its buildings to students and staff for a week following a cyber attack which breached security systems.

Services at the Tyrone and Fermanagh-based South West College were seriously disrupted by the attack, reported to the PSNI on March 15, which left the college's IT system out of operation.

Police confirmed that investigations into the security breach are ongoing.

South West College is located in Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen and Omagh.

Across the four sites, the college caters for more than 14,000 students and employs more than 500 full and part-time staff.

As a precaution, and to allow the investigation into the breach to take place, access to the college campus was withdrawn for a week after the incident.

In a notice to staff and students, seen by this newspaper, Michael McAlister, the college's chief executive, said: "We can now confirm that the college was the victim of a cyber-incident. A comprehensive investigation is ongoing and we have engaged third party IT security specialists to support us."

"We have informed the Information Commissioner's Office as well as police, who are investigating.

"We take the security of our systems extremely seriously and were able to respond quickly to this incident," he added. "We are in the process of assessing the extent to which the college's systems have been impacted."

Mr McAlister said the main teaching and communications were unharmed, but several other systems were affected.

"Fortunately our main teaching and learning communications systems remained operational, including e-mail, Canvas, Blackboard and one-drive," he said.

"We will continue to roll out network functionality and aim to do this as quickly as possible so as to minimise disruption.

Mr McAllister confirmed that due to the ongoing investigation, the college systems were out of operation.

"Some systems including EBS, e-registers, remote desktop access and reporting services were temporarily brought offline."

"Your health, safety and that of our students remain our number one priority," he told staff and pupils. "In order to allow us to manage this incident we took the decision to close our campus for the week to all student and staff access to allow further investigations.

"Our investigations into this incident remain ongoing."

Belfast Telegraph


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