After substantial challenges from COVID-19 and complications emanating from a recent cyberattack, Lincoln College in central Illinois is closing its doors after more than 150 years.
As per CNN, Lincoln College had approximately 1,200 students as of summer 2021.
(Photo : Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images for ITI Data)
Lincoln College Announced Its Closure
As per the news story of NBC News, Lincoln College is set to lock its doors, making it the first college in the U.S. to close due to a ransomware incident.
The Illinois Department of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission have been notified that the college would close permanently on May 13, Engadget reported.
According to a goodbye statement on the school’s website, the school survived both World Wars, the Spanish flu, and the Great Depression, but was unable to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak and a major ransomware incident in December that took months to resolve.
The Illinois school, which was founded on President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 1865 and is named after him, is one of only a few rural American colleges designated as mostly Black by the Department of Education.
A Ransomware Attack Targeted Lincoln College
Engadget added that while COVID-19 had a massive impact on processes like recruitment and fundraising, the educational institution’s months-long ransomware incident looks to have been the tipping point.
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In December, Lincoln was hit by a cyberattack that “thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, creating an unclear picture of fall 2022 enrollment.”
The college stated on its website that systems for “recruitment, retention, and fundraising efforts were inoperable.” Luckily, no personal or identifying information was stolen.
Once fully restored in March 2022, the projections displayed significant enrollment shortfalls, requiring a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.”
The college said it will assist students who are not graduating this term in transferring to another college.
Ransomware Attacks Still Prevalent Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic
The closure highlights the toll that ransomware attacks may take, according to Kim Milford, director of the Research and Education Networks Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), a nonprofit industry body that helps member colleges collect and share information about cyberthreats.
He noted that Lincoln was not a member of the Research and Education Networks ISAC, NBC News has reported.
CNN mentioned that during the coronavirus outbreak, cybercriminals have shown little restraint in locking down the computer networks of schools and institutions across the U.S. According to cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, ransomware hit 62 school districts and 26 college and university campuses in 2021. “All told, ransomware incidents disrupted learning at more than 1,000 schools in the US in 2021,” the report read.
It was reported that ransomware attacks can render entire computer networks useless in severe circumstances, which can have disastrous financial ramifications for victims who cannot afford to repair them.
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