Restoration of digital systems progressing at full speed

Several organisational systems are already running again, learning platforms can be accessed from campus, teaching continues to take place: after a wide-reaching attack on the UDE by cyber criminals, internal and external experts are continuing to work at full speed to assess the damage – and to restore the systems.

As early as Monday morning, UDE had set up a new website to ensure staff and students could receive information immediately. Since then, this central website has continuously been expanded and updated. Internal information and communication processes have partially been restored during this time. UDE will continue to provide its staff and students with information via this central website, via faculties’ and institutes’ own web presences and on its social media channels. As communicated on 29 November, all deadlines for examined written work across UDE have been extended. On campus, students can use the usual learning platforms like Moodle, as well as licensed programs for academic work.

‘There are attempted attacks on academic and research institutions every day; unfortunately, that is the reality,’ explained Prof. Dr. Pedro José Marrón, Vice-Rector for Transfer, Innovation and Digitalisation at UDE. ‘Of course, we have up-to-date and reliable security systems, which has meant we could withstand all previous attacks. The attack at hand has come from a highly professional criminal organisation.’

All UDE systems are currently undergoing forensic examination with the support of external experts. Due to the large amounts of data that must be analysed and protected against subsequent attacks, this will still take some time. Any evidence relating to the attack must initially be secured – only after that can the relevant system be reactivated or reconstructed.

The criminal investigations are being led by the central point of contact for cybercrime for North Rhine-Westphalia (Zentral- und Ansprechstelle Cybercrime Nordrhein-Westfalen;ZAC NRW), part of the public prosecution office in Cologne, which gets involved in particularly critical cases.

‘It is not yet possible to estimate how long it will take until we can speak about returning to standard operations. In some areas, this may soon be the case, but for other systems we have to wait for progress in examining and restoring the systems,’ said Chancellor Jens Andreas Meinen, who is coordinating the crisis management team. ‘We still have some challenges ahead of us but the incredible commitment and teamwork shown by our students and staff give me confidence.’

Author: Birte Vierjahn, Phone: +49 151 / 688 150 16, vierjahn@uni-due.org