'There are different motivations for an attack like this': Sask. Polytechnic classes cancelled after cyber-attack
SASKATOON -- Saskatchewan Polytechnic said it's making progress on safely restoring operations and online services following a cyber-attack over the weekend.
Following Sunday's cyber-attack, all online and in-person classes at Saskatchewan Polytechnic were cancelled until Nov. 4.
In a statement Monday, the school would not say what kind of attack it was, but that they would continue “to work with external experts and law enforcement to determine the extent of the security incident and to safely restore systems.”
“We are making progress on safely restoring operating platforms and online services,” said president and CEO Dr. Larry Rosia in the statement.
“I want to thank our in-house IT security system and all employees who worked tirelessly over the weekend with outside experts and third party suppliers to minimize the impact of the cybersecurity incident. Saskatchewan Polytechnic wants to assure students, their families, employees and our industry partners, we will keep you informed. Our first priority is to restore the online learning environment for students.”
Twenty-year-old Mark Hignett is in his first year of Food & Nutrition Management at Sask. Polytechnic, taking online classes.
“They've been really good, really informative,” he said. “Our instructors have been contacting us and letting us know how we're going to have no classes until Nov. 4, and how they've been really good at pushing our schoolwork back and giving us lots of time to still be completing it for deadlines. So they've been really good and working around it.”
Tech expert Marc Saltzman said personal information is just one of several different motivations for someone to ‘hack’ a school.
“Their motivations may vary, could be financially driven, politically driven, maybe it's a disgruntled employee, that's trying to wreak havoc,” Saltzman said.
“In this particular case, maybe they're after people's information like credit card data and bank account information, or social insurance numbers that can be used for identity theft for financial gain.”
Hignett said he isn’t concerned.
“I believe that Sask. Polytechnic, they have a really good IT team, and so I'm just kind of letting them take control of it and I'm not too worried about it personally.”
Saltzman said the best way to protect yourself from an online attack is simple.
“It boils down to not using the same password for all your online activity, because once the bad guys can have access to that one password, now they're going to possibly apply it to all of your other online accounts,” he said.
“So it's a bit of a wake up call, not only do you need a good, long, and complicated password that's not easy to guess, or have software that can try to guess it, and not only should you opt for two-factor authentication, but you can't use the same password for everything, because now you're vulnerable”
The school has campuses in Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina.