Illinois’ Lincoln College will close its doors on 13 May 2022 as a cyber-attack dealt financial blows and it was unable to recover from following unprecedented challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lincoln College attributed the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the cyber-attack in December 2021, for its financial woes and poor enrollment rates in 2022, despite a bumper year for enrollment in 2019.
The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically impacted recruitment and fundraising efforts. The College said the economic burdens initiated by the pandemic required large investments in technology and campus safety measures, followed by a significant drop in enrollment.
Cyber-attack takes down admissions process
The December 2021 cyber-attack thwarted admissions activities and hindered access to all institutional data, which the College said created an unclear picture of Fall 2022 enrollment projections.
All systems required for recruitment, retention and fundraising efforts were inoperable. No personal identifying information was exposed.
The system was not fully restored until March 2022 by which time the College’s projections displayed significant enrollment shortfalls.
In an interview with WGLT, David Gerlach, Lincoln College President, said they knew exactly who the culprits of the attack were but did not go into details, simply alluding to “Iranian hackers”.
Ultimately, the College said that to overcome this it required a transformational donation or partnership to sustain Lincoln College beyond the current semester.
Unfortunately, efforts to strengthen the College’s financial position have not borne fruit.
In its statement, the College notes that it survived many difficulties throughout its 157-year history, including the Spanish flu of 1918, the Great Depression, World War II and the 2008 global financial crisis.
Education a target
Commenting on incident Jason Rebholz, CISO at Corvsu Insurance, said schools and universities tend to be big targets for ransomware.
He added that the time to recover from such an incident varies widely depending on the investment in resilient architecture.
“Some schools have massive technical debt due to archaic systems that simply can’t be updated anymore without a massive project,” he noted.
According to Check Point Research, in 2021 education/research was the sector that experienced the highest volume of attacks, with an average of 1,605 attacks per organization every week. This was a 75 percent increase from 2020.