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Baruch College addresses network outage and security concerns

Jeffrey Zeldman | flickr

Baruch College faced a network outage and reported a system shutdown due to “suspicious activities,” on Sept. 25. The incident prompted an immediate shift to remote learning and raised concerns about data security.

Alaina Gilligo, vice president for Baruch’s Operations and Administration, and Michael Richichi, interim vice president for Baruch’s Information Services and Chief Information Officer, addressed questions regarding the power outage on Oct. 5.

The network outage, initially detected by Baruch Computing and Technology Center on the morning of Sept. 25, inflicted significant disruptions across the college.

While the investigation is ongoing, the team is unable to disclose which type of malware was involved in the cyberattack.

“We have been advised by law enforcement not to discuss specifics as there is an active investigation going on,” Gilligo and Richichi stated in an email response to The Ticker.

Students and faculty alike have raised concerns regarding the extent of data loss and potential compromise of critical systems.

“The extent of lost data is unknown at this time, as we continue to make progress in restoring the network in a diligent and deliberate way,” Gilligo and Richichi noted in the email. “While we are currently determining the impact on office desktop files, there is evidence that some desktop files on some computers may not be recoverable.”

Despite the network breach, there is currently no evidence suggesting that personal information of Baruch students and staff was compromised.

Additional concerns have risen regarding the security of accessing files from personal computers considering the recent outage.

In an email update regarding the attack, Baruch answered the question: “Will accessing files from my personal computer put me at risk for a cyberattack?”

Baruch College’s Frequently Asked Questions affirmed that accessing the platforms from one’s home computer remained secure.

However, the college advised students and staff to be vigilant when it comes to opening attachments from unknown, external sources. This precautionary measure is crucial to maintain a secure online environment.

In response to questions about the security protocols in place at the time of the attack, Gilligo and Richichi emphasized that “all appropriate and current security protocols” were in effect.

BCTC is actively working with industry experts and CUNY’s Computing and Information Services to implement new tools and policies to enhance enterprise security. The college is also installing new security software on every Baruch computer to fortify its defenses against future cyber threats.

Until further notice, student support services such as counseling, tutoring and advising remain remote. Students are still able to schedule appointments through Baruch’s website.

Baruch’s Student Academic Consulting Center stated in an email on Oct. 6, “not knowing exactly when we’ll be ready to return, we have decided to keep tutoring services online for all of next week, at least through October 14.”

As of Oct. 8, BCTC made substantial progress in restoring the college’s network and is actively working on getting the rest of the remaining departmental devices up and running.

As BCTC persists in its diligent efforts to enhance cybersecurity, students and staff can find reassurance in knowing that accessing files and utilizing the college’s internet remains safe.

For more information and updates, please visit the Baruch College website and stay informed through email notifications.

Editor’s note: The writer had attempted to contact BCTC in person on Oct. 2 and was redirected to an email with FAQ’s. The writer received an email response from BCTC answering her questions on Oct. 5.

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