Personal data of students and applicants of Lancaster University have been stolen in a phishing attack targeting the university.
BBC News, in a report yesterday, quoted officials as saying stolen information has been used to send bogus invoices to undergraduate applicants.
The report said that the phishing attack also accessed “a very small number” of student records, phone numbers, and identification documents.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said that the university suffered a “compromise of its systems”.
“”A criminal investigation led by the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit is now under way, and it would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage,” the NCA said.
Meanwhile, Lancaster University said in a statement that it became aware of the data breach only on Friday and was working already to resolve the matters.
Phishing attack hounds Lancaster University
The university said information such as names, addresses, phone numbers and emails, linked to students who had applied to join the university in 2019 and 2020 were breached.
“We are aware that fraudulent invoices are being sent to some undergraduate applicants,” it said.
“At the present time, we know of a very small number of students who have had their record and ID documents accessed.”
Lancaster University said it was contacting affected students and providing them advice.
A spokesman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said it had received a report from the university and would review the information provided.
Helen Davenport, who advises clients on cyber security, said it was “essential” sectors such as higher education took cyber-security risks “seriously” and put training and software in place to “proactively shield against future attacks”.
She said focus would now switch to how the attack had impacted students’ data and how the university intended “to guard against something likely to be attempted again”.
Davenport said failure to do so “could affect the attractiveness of the university to future candidates”.
Photo: Markus Spiske
Angelica is a reporter for Global Education Times with a focus on the ‘business of education’, and on Asia-Pacific and South American education affairs. An experienced journalist, Angelica also writes for the oldest English newspaper in the Philippines, The Manila Times, as the publication’s business correspondent.
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