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UMass Lowell in control of IT sytems following “cybersecurity incident”

UMass Lowell in control of IT sytems following “cybersecurity incident”
UMass Lowell in control of IT sytems following “cybersecurity incident”

LOWELL – About 24 hours after reporting a “cybersecurity incident” affecting technology services, a top UMass Lowell official told The Sun Wednesday the university has “total control of our systems.”

“We are trying to bring critical tools back up slowly but are being cautious on advice of security experts,” Senior Vice Chancellor for University Relations Patricia McCafferty told the newspaper. “We have total control of our systems.”

UMass Lowell officials announced late Wednesday afternoon that the university would resume business operations Thursday as the university works to bring individual technology systems back online while investigating the cybersecurity event.

Meanwhile, campus classes will remain closed Thursday, after being canceled both Tuesday and Wednesday due to the cybersecurity incident. University officials also announced they are working to finalize new Summer I session timelines to allow for make-up dates and extended assignment deadlines.

The university said in a statement Tuesday that officials are working with a cyberforensics firm to identify, evaluate and eliminate any issues that are discovered.

University officials said that employees may notice a software program called Red Cloak temporarily installed on all university devices, which is being done by IT to identify and evaluate potential security threats.

“We continue to maintain control of all of our IT systems,” Michael Cipriano, chief information officer at UMass Lowell, said in a university press release issued Wednesday. “While some organizations in this situation may have continued to operate their IT infrastructure while trying to address the impact, out of an abundance of caution, we suspended all network access to minimize any potential damage while we work with our cybersecurity forensic partner to identify and restore our systems.”

Cipriano said the cyber forensic firm is offering guidance and helping to analyze data to close any breaches that are discovered.

According to Wednesday’s release, the university is prioritizing the restoration of core academic systems and databases, including Blackboard and Zoom, which provide online course delivery and video chat functions. Customer service functions are also impacted as many of the central databases where university officials gather information are temporarily offline.

Joseph Hartman, provost and vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, said in Wednesday’s release the university is working to finalize new Summer I session timelines to allow for make-up dates and extended assignment deadlines to accommodate classes that were canceled due to the outage and to adjust deadlines as needed for prospective students registering for the fall semester.

“The last 15 months have been an exercise in adaptation and flexibility and while we deeply regret this inconvenience for students and their families, we’re confident that we’ll be back up and running soon and are grateful to all of our employees who have worked hard to develop temporary solutions to meet students’ needs,” Hartman said in the release.

The university is also closed Friday in recognition of the Juneteenth holiday.

Staff writer Aaron Curtis contributed to this report.

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