- The Los Angeles Community College District recently paid $28,000 in Bitcoin currency to a group of hackers who took control of its Valley College communications network, seizing control of the campus' email and voicemail systems.
- College officials say hackers provided the key to unlocking the captured network data and that without the payment, almost all student and faculty information would have been lost.
- The district holds a cybersecurity policy to finance protections against such attacks, which typically originate in Europe and which frequently target public agencies and institutions.
Campuses must take an active approach to cybersecurity as technology access increases and the sophistication of hackers grows worldwide. But leaders must navigate the costs and the culture of defending against such practices, to engage students and faculty in best habits for network security.
For private schools, the task may require a full fundraising effort to finance a comprehensive approach to network integrity. But for public institutions, challenges exist in procurement standards and upgrade needs which may not be easy or to do. Also, as the potential of the Internet of Things grows on college campuses, new ways of hacking may evolve to target the agencies with the greatest amounts of data, and the most typically-vulnerable systems of protection.