Sadly after 157 years Lincoln College a rural school in Illinois has permanently closed its doors. That’s to say that due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a ransomware attack that happened in December 2021, where recovery was long, it’s chosen to close its doors.

The college posted a goodbye note on its website as well as notified the Illinois Department of Higher Education and Higher Learning Commission.

An excerpt from the goodbye note reads:

“Lincoln College has survived many difficult and challenging times – the economic crisis of 1887, a major campus fire in 1912, the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II, the 2008 global financial crisis, and more, but this is different. Lincoln College needs help to survive.”

In other words, during the pandemic the institution struggled, and December 2021 ransomware attack meant it had further challenges.  Therefore, as a result, of the attack, admissions were thwarted and access to all institutional data was hindered which created uncertainty about the enrolment projections for the Autumn of 2022.

Many of the systems were inoperable these relating to recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts.

Thankfully, personal information wasn’t exposed. But upon restoration significant enrolment shortfalls appeared given restoration didn’t occur until the March. After that it meant either a substantial donation or a partnership was needed to keep the College moving into the future.

Kim Milford the Director of Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISCA) told NBC News that ransomware attacks can take a huge toll on its victim. For this College, it the first in ransomware attack history where a US college or university had to close. “I feel really bad for Lincoln College and wish there was some way we could help, but it can be a very expensive proposition when you’re hit by ransomware,” Milford continued.

That’s to say, it is better to try to avoid a ransomware attack in the first place to avoid the pain of having to close the doors.

How to avoid ransomware attacks

  1. Require the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA). Doesn’t disrupt normal day-to-day activities and can be set up easily.
  2. Install security software on all systems. Use one that offers multiple layers of protection against online threats, especially ransomware.
  3. Patch as soon as you can.  Keeping it all up-to-date means cybercriminals can’t exploit existing and known flaws. Universities and businesses alike rely on various software for various tasks.
  4. Promote awareness for all faculty members and staff. Educating staff to help them understand their part in protecting the university of business from cyberattacks is essential. It’s everyone’s responsibility to stay safe, staff, school staff, and students alike, not just the IT people.
  5. Back up your files. When it comes to ransomware attacks, this is one of the pieces of advice we give out, back up your file. Learn from a ransomware incident and how a mistake left the door open.

Neither schools or businesses want to close the doors. Take steps today to protect yourself.

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