Classes resume at Michigan Community College after ransomware attack

Classes at Kellogg Community College resume Wednesday after two days of outages caused by a ransomware attack.

The school in Battle Creek, Michigan, told its nearly 7,000 students on May 2 that the ransomware had crippled its systems on April 29. The school was forced to close all of its campuses and hired third-party security experts to fix the problem.

The outages affected the main Battle Creek campus as well as branches in Coldwater, Albion and Hastings.

Vice President Eric Greene told The Record that the school is “still working to understand the potential impact to staff and student data.” Officials did not release information about the ransomware group that attacked the school.

“Our investigation is still in its early stages and we will share updates as soon as we have more information from our experts,” Greene said.

The community college said it is “implementing security measures to prevent unauthorized access to our network, including forced password reset for all students, faculty, and staff.”

Officials said the attack was particularly disruptive as the students are preparing for the finals. Several people who spoke to local news outlet WWMT said they had several final exams and essays due on May 1. Semester classes end on May 9.

School staff were able to return to campus on Tuesday and classes resumed on Wednesday.

The school is now urging all students to set new passwords and implement multi-factor authentication to access the online system.

The attack on Kellogg Community College would make it the 13th reported ransomware attack against a university or college in the United States this year, according to Brett Callow, threat analyst at Emsisoft.

Callow, which tracks ransomware attacks on schools and local governments, noted that nine school districts in the United States have also been attacked this year. Several universities and colleges have been attacked by the BlackCat (ALPHV) ransomware group.

In 10 of the 13 attacks, data exfiltration was involved.

Last week, Austin Peay State University sent urgent messages to students and faculty warning of a ransomware attack affecting school systems.

Ohlone College, Savannah State University, University of Detroit Mercy, Centralia College, University of Arkansas Phillips Community College, National University College, North Carolina A&T University, Florida International University, University of Stratford are just a few of the US schools attacked with ransomware this year.

Jonathan has worked around the world as a journalist since 2014. Before returning to New York, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.