DMACC resuming online courses two weeks after cyberattack

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines Area Community College has been offline for nearly two weeks as it recovers from a cyberattack, but it is taking strides towards normal operations.

DMACC plans to resume online courses on Thursday, a week after in-person classes returned. DMACC president Rob Denson said the college’s IT team and cyber-insurance provider have worked around the clock to restore service.

“This is a major milestone,” Denson said. “We’ve got a number of internal processes yet to light up and go, but clearly we’re seeing some great progress.”

Denson believes the cybersecurity breach happened when someone clicked on a bad link while connected to DMACC’s network.

“We see many examples of this in all kinds of different industries. If you haven’t been hacked, you probably will be,” Denson said. “It’s not something I hope to go through ever again.”

Denson said DMACC avoided the worst-case scenario and did not have to pay a ransom to regain access to its network.

“Our HR site, our financial aid site, and our learning management system all appear to be secure,” Denson said. “We never got to a point where we felt any kind of payment would be appropriate.”

All DMACC students and staff now have to change their passwords in order to access the network. Additionally, the college will now implement multi-factor authentication when logging on.

Denson hopes other schools and companies take action before they end up in the same scenario.

“It would be some form of malpractice for any company not to significantly review all of their cyber practices,” Denson said. “You can be guaranteed that there’s somebody trying to break into your system every night.”

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