Wednesday, February 15th, 2023
Ensure IT security is up to date after MTU attack
Ireland, February 10 –
A CORK cybersecurity expert has warned of an “unprecedented” level of ransomware attacks in recent months and has urged people to ensure their IT security is up to date.
Speaking in the wake of the ransomware attack that Munster Technological University (MTU) suffered last weekend, Ronan Murphy, founder and executive chairman of cybersecurity firm Smarttech247, said such hacks are becoming more and more prevalent.
“Cyberattacks are a daily occurrence in lots of different guises — but this particular cyberattack is referred to as a ransomware attack and ransomware has been incredibly prolific over the last six months,” he said.
Mr Murphy added: “The increase has been unprecedented in terms of the attacks that we’re seeing globally.
“Over the last two weeks there has been over 500 companies in France, for example, who have fallen victim to these ransomware attacks,” Mr Murphy told The Echo.
“It’s a huge problem and the consequences of the attack are profoundly damaging on a number of fronts.
“Number one, it’s the inability to access the systems as MTU is now experiencing.
“But, in addition to that, there’s also the worry around the data because when these guys get access to your network what they typically do is they steal data… and that data can be in the form of containing very sensitive information on people and personally identifiable information,” he explained.
“So it’s a worry for anyone who falls victim to this type of attack to try and figure out what type of data these guys got their hands on.”
He stressed that anybody is potentially susceptible to these attacks.
“Once you take that position and you realise that it can happen, you then need to continually test your systems and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses.”
MTU’s Cork campuses remain closed following the cyberattack.
In a statement, MTU said the incident was detected by its IT security systems last weekend with “immediate steps being taken to intercept and manage the incident”.
The university confirmed that the incident “resulted in the encryption of certain MTU systems for the purpose of demanding a ransom”.
The Kerry campuses of MTU remain unaffected.
MTU said that following the incident it has been in close and ongoing contact with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Data Protection Commission, An Garda Síochána, and other relevant stakeholders including Government departments.
“We have engaged highly specialised services and have been working closely with the expert national authorities and our security partners in immediately instigating a dual process to investigate the cause and extent of the attack as well as the safest and most efficient recovery process,” MTU stated.
“The nature and extent of this incident, including what data may have been breached, remains under investigation,” the statement continued.
MTU said that students and staff do not need to take any action at this time and MTU will notify any affected individuals in line with its data protection obligations.
“While it is still early in this process we are following all appropriate protocols and procedures in order to minimise and mitigate any impact that this incident may have and to facilitate the restoration of our education services as a top priority.
“We wish to reassure students and staff that we are looking at all of our options as part of this dynamic and evolving situation.
“We appreciate the patience of all students, staff and stakeholders while we complete this vital work,” MTU added.
The university said it is planning for a “phased and managed return” to teaching and learning from Monday, February 13.