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Howard University Partially Reopens As It Investigates A Cyberattack

Howard University, pictured in Washington, D.C., in July, is investigating a ransomware attack that it detected ahead of the holiday weekend.
Jacquelyn Martin
/
AP
Howard University, pictured in Washington, D.C., in July, is investigating a ransomware attack that it detected ahead of the holiday weekend.

Howard University in Washington, D.C., partially reopened Wednesday after a ransomware cyberattack forced the university to cancel Tuesday's classes.

In-person classes are resuming, while online and hybrid undergraduate courses remain suspended, according to a statement from the university.

Howard is still investigating the attack, which was detected on Friday, in coordination with forensic experts and law enforcement.

"To date, there has been no evidence of personal information being accessed or exfiltrated; however, our investigation remains ongoing, and we continue to work toward clarifying the facts surrounding what happened and what information has been accessed," the university's statement said.

Cyber-risk consultants say there has been an uptick in the number of ransom attacks across the U.S. in recent years — and they're increasingly sophisticated, as NPR's David Gura reported in the wake of the Colonial Pipeline attack. In many cases, these cybercriminals have the upper hand, often getting the payments they demand, NPR's Greg Myre notes.

The specific circumstances around the attack on Howard are still unclear.


This story originally published in the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dana Farrington is a digital editor coordinating online coverage on the Washington Desk — from daily stories to visual feature projects to the weekly newsletter. She has been with the NPR Politics team since President Trump's inauguration. Before that, she was among NPR's first engagement editors, managing the homepage for NPR.org and the main social accounts. Dana has also worked as a weekend web producer and editor, and has written on a wide range of topics for NPR, including tech and women's health.