BREAKING: Data center alerted by ‘malicious activity,’ six applications down

By Kendall Polidori, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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Six applications through Columbia’s data center are currently down until further notice due to “malicious activity” on Saturday, May 30.

A Tuesday, June 2 collegewide email from Information Technology said the department responded immediately to the “malicious activity” but the cyber-attack was still able to compromise some of the college’s servers and storage.

Though the college says the damage was minimal, the IT Department is still experiencing issues with the applications Student Portal/MyColumbia, CX Web Interface, FEITH, File Shares, Hyperion IE Reporting Database and PeopleSoft HCM and Financials.

These applications are used by students, faculty and staff.

In a Wednesday, June 3 email sent to students from Columbia Central, it said students can still register for summer classes and make changes to their summer schedule by emailing Columbia Central with their name, OASIS ID number, course prefix, number, section and title.

The email did not indicate if the MyColumbia announcement was related to the outages reported earlier.

Associate Vice President of Strategic Communications and External Relations Lambrini Lukidis said it is unlikely that data was breached or information was retrieved before IT got involved.

Kathie Koch, associate vice president and CIO, said from what she knows, no information was taken from the college’s servers.

“We’re hoping to continue to dig into it and resolve the issue quickly,” Koch said. “We just wanted people to know that things were down and we were working on it and will give updates as we find out more.”

Services still available include CX Client, Canvas, Office 365, Zoom, PBCS, Intranet, internet access and the Columbia website, Acuity, Raiser’s Edge, EMS, TeamDynamix, WebCheckout and Facilities 360.

Michael Wozny, director of the Chicago IT support firm MXOTech, said obtaining personal information through a cyber-attack could happen immediately, depending on how much access the hacker has and how quickly the IT Department responds.

Joanna Sobran, CEO and president of MXOTech, said cyber-attacks like this happen on a regular basis and have increased during the coronavirus pandemic because many have made the unexpected switch to working and learning remotely.

Despite the minimal damage to servers at Columbia, Sobran said she recommends that anyone using these applications should change their passwords as soon as possible and create a different password for each account used.

More updates to come.


Additional reporting by Mari Devereaux

Updated Wednesday, June 3 at 11 a.m. with an image from Getty Images. The previous image features a photo of the CTVA Post Production Center’s Machine Room, not the college’s data center. The servers hosted in the Post Production Center were not involved in any “malicious activity.” 

Updated Wednesday, June 3 at 2:30 p.m. with additional information on the MyColumbia application.