BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s unclear how long Kellogg Community College will remain shut down after falling victim to a ransomware attack.
The college in Battle Creek says it began seeing technology problems that impacted some of its systems, forcing an announcement Sunday for an immediate closure. In a statement to News 8 Monday, a spokesperson said the college was still working to understand the full extent of the attack.
“The depth of an attack could really be substantial beyond what we might think,” Tim Holt, a criminal justice professor at Michigan State University who has researched cybercrimes and hackers, said.
He explained ransomware attacks come through emails as an attached file or through unverified links.
“The activity from there depends on how quickly it spreads within the network and what systems are comprised,” he said. “If it is a administrative assistant or someone with mid- to lower levels within a large organization, it can be relatively minor.”
But if someone has access to more sensitive data, he said, there’s a greater risk.
Holt believes the college’s decision to close is a way of playing it safe.
“It’s most likely a way to minimize the threat of loss of information or depending on the way that the organization is structured, it could be a way to minimize risk to students facility or staff,” Holt said.
KCC said it had backups in place and is are working with its IT experts to restore operations. The college is also trying to determine if any students’ or faculty’s information was affected.
Students told News 8 they are frustrated and scared as they are less than a week away from the end of the spring semester. The last day of classes is May 9 and graduation is May 12.
“While there is never a good time for a ransomware ware attack, I would imagine students and faculty are going to be inconvenienced until the institution gives more information about the depth of the compromise,” Holt said.
The college hopes to have campus reopen soon but if not, faculty will reevaluate deadlines for final student projects.
In the meantime, Holt is urging everyone to use this as a reminder to be cautious.
“Now is the time people need to be very careful looking at the sender, the links, the attachment,” he said.
The college hopes to welcome students and faculty back by the end of the week.