Online classes are cancelled as every IT system is taken down by the attack

The University of Hertfordshire has been hit by a cyber attack that has taken down its entire IT network and has also blocked access to cloud-based services.

The attack, which began at just before 22:00 on Wednesday, has taken down its Wi-Fi network, student record portal, and email system. Students have also reported being unable to access Office 365 services, including its main collaboration platform MS Teams, as well as Canvas and Zoom.

All online teaching will be cancelled today (Thursday 15 April), and we understand that this may impact students being able to submit assignments.” the university stated in a comment on its website. “We want to reassure our students that no-one will be disadvantaged as a consequence of this.”

The university added that its IT staff is working to restore access as soon as possible, but has given no further information on the nature of the attack.

The service status of the university's online systems

An IT status page for the university shows that its mobile app, its learning resources hub, and staff services have also been affected by the attack.

In-person and on-campus teaching is still set to continue, as long as computer access is not required.

Ellen Hedge, a first-year student from the University who is studying for a primary education degree, told IT Pro: “Today’s events have impacted me as I was scheduled to have a lecture for an assignment which is due next month. Living on campus, it also means that I am unable to complete any other work, partake in fitness classes or watch TV due to studynet and the Wi-Fi being down.”

IT Pro has contacted the university to establish the precise nature of the attack, including whether the attack involves ransomware.

Hertfordshire Police has confirmed it has been informed of the situation and is seeking information from the public on this matter.

This is not the only British university to be affected by cyber attacks recently, as the University of Northampton was hit by one in March. It experienced a disruption to its telephone systems and servers and had notified the ICO as a precaution as well as the police.

The NCSC reported that since late February there’s been an increased number of ransomware attacks on educational institutions in the UK. Last year the organisation highlighted that there was an increase of ransomware attacks on the UK’s education sector in August and September too.