Ransomware Deals Deathblow to 157-year-old College

Illinois-based Lincoln College was established during the U.S. Civil War. Since then it has weathered two world wars, the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression, the Great Recession and a devastating fire. But two things it couldn’t survive? A ransomware attack and financial pressures tied to the impact of COVID-19 on its enrollment. It’s a warning sign for academic institutions around the country that have been disproportionately targeted by ransomware attacks. That’s why some universities are now taking new and remarkable measures to protect themselves against the threat of ransomware attacks. The Ransomware Attack In a March letter posted online and authored by Lincoln President David Gerlach, he explained the school’s plight. “The institution experienced record-breaking student enrollment in Fall 2019, with residence halls at maximum capacity,” he explained. But then, of course, “the coronavirus pandemic dramatically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts.” Thus the 157-year-old college was in an already precarious financial state when, in Dec. 2021, it fell prey to ransomware. The attack “thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections. All systems required for recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable.” In an interview with The Chicago Tribune last month, Gerlach admitted that the college paid their ransom – under $100,000 – to their Iranian hackers….