On Monday 15th March 2021, 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 on our Essential Information for Students (as link) page
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.