ANKENY, IOWA — Students returned to campus at DMACC in Ankeny on Wednesday for the first time since a cybersecurity breach shutdown portions of their network last Friday. Students will be back in class again on Thursday to begin a new semester – but online students still don’t know when they’ll be back.
The school says a ‘cybersecurity incident’ last week shutdown most of the school’s computer network. As of Wednesday the school’s website still features just dashboard messages and no navigation. The school says its IT department and the FBI are both working to restore access to the network. Once the network is resecured, online classes will begin the next day. However the school still doesn’t know when that day will be.
A local cybersecurity firm says hackers work incessantly to steal passwords and gain access to emails and other accounts. Once they’ve stolen them, they’re sold en masse on the dark web. He says the simplest mistake that can take down a network – a weak password. “Ransomware will leverage misconfigurations or weak passwords or vulnerable end-users and services to infiltrate the networks,” says Brandon Potter with Procircular.
Potter says one of the best tools available to you is multifactor authentification that requires a second password – usually a code sent as a text – to access a site. He also recommends credit monitoring services, though they’ll only alert you after you’ve been attacked, not before.