Hackers have taken a serious hold on the higher education sector in Europe.
The University of Zurich, Switzerland's largest institution of higher education, announced on Feb. 3 that it was the target of a "serious cyberattack" that came amid a spate of hacks at European German-speaking universities.
At the time of publication of this news, the university website is still unavailable, but the telephone line with the press service is working. In an official statement, a university spokesman described the incident as part of a malicious campaign targeting educational and medical institutions in Europe.
Over the past few weeks, this is not the first attack on universities in German-speaking countries. Last month, for example, the Vice Society ransomware group claimed responsibility for the November attack on the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany.
And last week, the Harz University of Applied Sciences, the Western Ruhr University and the European University of Applied Sciences also announced that they had suffered from hacker attacks. No group has yet claimed responsibility for these attacks.
Attacks lead to the inoperability of websites and some internal systems of universities. In most cases, attackers reportedly gain access to a specific account and then expand their presence in the system and gain full access to internal networks.
Whether ordinary students or a professional hacker group are behind the attack on the University of Zurich has not yet been disclosed. However, representatives of the university said that the attackers acted very professionally.
More than 25,000 students study at the University of Zurich and about 3,700 teachers work. The university has several campuses throughout the city of Zurich. It is not yet clear what impact the attack had on the academic activities of the university.
In a statement, the university said it had already stepped up measures and repelled the attacks with internal resources as well as external support. And accounts and systems identified as compromised were isolated.
At this time, the university is not aware of whether any internal data has been encrypted or extracted. However, all relevant organizations were informed and involved in the investigation.