Attempted cyberattack causes disruption at NUI Galway

Online lectures impacted as university disconnects network from wider internet

NUI Galway (NUIG) has disconnected its computer systems from the internet following an attempted cyberattack.

The move has disrupted access to online lectures for students outside the campus and led to limited communication among staff.

A spokesman for the university said: “Our IT, cybersecurity and data protection specialists are monitoring and investigating the incident closely. At this point there is no evidence of any data being compromised.”

The spokesman said that, as a precautionary measure, the university has disabled access between the campus computer network and the wider internet, impacting all users, including students and staff.

“We are working to restore normal access as soon as is possible. We apologise for the inconvenience caused.”

Lectures for all year groups resumed on the NUIG campus recently; however, the capacity of larger theatres and teaching spaces there has been limited to 80 per cent. As a result, some teaching and learning is taking place online.

The attempted cyberattack comes at a time of mounting concern over the State’s ability to protect against hacking, and follows a ransomware attack in May on the HSE’s IT systems that wreaked havoc across the health service.

Last week it emerged that the State’s cybersecurity centre was “underresourced and overtasked” and did not have the “organisational design or capacity” to meet its goals, according to a confidential report.

A capacity review into the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was carried out between January and March by consultants who compared the centre with other organisations of a similar scope internationally.

The confidential report from the consultants found that a “significant burden” rests on the cybersecurity centre to deliver against the National Cyber Security Strategy but “based on our review, it does not currently have the organisational design or capacity to achieve all of the objectives”.

It also anticipated a “considerable strain” being added to the centre in the coming years with forthcoming cyber initiatives planned in the EU.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent

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