Malware Attack Shuts Down Columbia State for 2 Days

The virus spread when an employee opened a malicious email attachment, forcing classes on all campuses to close for two days.

Malware Attack Shuts Down Columbia State for 2 Days

Officials are not sure what kind of virus the system acquired, but they have assured that no student data was taken.

After a computer virus infiltrated Columbia State Community College (Tenn.), the school’s five campuses were forced to shut down for two days.

An employee opened an email with malware attached and it spread to the college’s communication network, said President Janet Smith.

Campuses in Columbia, Franklin, Lewisburg, Lawrencburg and Clifton closed on Monday and Tuesday and reopened Wednesday, reports the Columbia Daily Herald.

“Because of the nature of the malware and the infection, it was a conservative move to close the campus for two days to ensure there was proper remediation,” said Tennessee Board of regents Director of Communications, Richard Locker. “The incident underscores the growing threat of such attacks on information systems of all kinds.”

None of the other 13 community colleges or 27 colleges of applied technology in the state were targeted, and none of them have had to close from cyber attacks before.

“This is the most serious thing that I am aware of,” Locker added.

Officials are not sure what kind of virus the system acquired, but they have assured that no student data was taken.

Students did not have access to campus WiFi when they returned Wednesday but were allowed to access college email through their own devices and personal WiFi.

“Some students will be taking midterms, so we will have to make accommodations about that,” Smith said. “For some, it may be more challenging than others.”

Many students were confused as to why the campus was closed, unaware that the cyberattack was the reason.

“Regarding the campus closing [Monday and Tuesday], why can’t you provide a clear explanation/reason? Why do we have to keep guessing what is going on?” one student wrote on Columbia State’s Facebook page.

According to the Director of Communications Amy Spears-Boyd, students were sent an email about the situation Tuesday afternoon.

“Our information technology department has been working tirelessly with expert consultants around the clock to protect sensitive data and to eradicate the virus,” the email said.

About the Author

Katie Malafronte
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Katie Malafronte is Campus Safety's Web Editor. She graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Writing & Rhetoric. Katie has been CS's Web Editor since 2018.

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