B.C. college says info of students, employees at risk following cyber attack

A British Columbia community college says personal information of some students and employees may have been copied by a cyber attacker earlier this month.

Okanagan College, which has 17,000 students and 1,100 employees across several campuses in southern B.C., said an “unauthorized entity gained access to certain Okanagan College technology systems” around Jan. 9.

As a result, certain information about students and employees “may have been subject to risk,” the college said. Free credit monitoring services are being offered.

Meanwhile, the Vice Society ransomware gang has published notice of an attack against an unnamed Canadian organization, claiming to have exfiltrated more than 850 GB of data. A  blurred photo accompanying that notice appears to be one of an Okanagan College building on the Kelowna campus.

The campuses are in Penticton, Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm. There are also several smaller centres in Revelstoke and Oliver where communities can access educational services like tutoring, English as a Second Language, and Continuing Studies programs

The college has notified the B.C. Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner and is in the process of notifying students and staff.

On discovering the attack, the college immediately shut down, and disabled network access across all of the campuses, and has hired external cyber-security experts to assist in its response and investigation.

Restoration of IT services continues, with many systems back online. However, when an ITWorldCanada reporter called the Kelowna campus on Thursday afternoon, a receptionist said that not all phones were working.

For certain IT services, temporary solutions have been implemented. Access to the online Moodle learning platform is available, as well as the ClassFinder app.

The college has extended its fee payment deadline for the winter semester to Jan. 31, 2023.

However, it is currently unable to produce properly formatted official student transcripts for proof of completion of courses. For the time being, graduates and students who request a transcript will be provided with an unofficial transcript that reflects their academic record and a letter of authenticity from the college. An official transcript will be mailed once systems are restored.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer. Former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, Howard has written for several of ITWC's sister publications, including ITBusiness.ca. Before arriving at ITWC he served as a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times.

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