Hackers Target Texas University

An ongoing network outage at a university in Texas is believed to have been caused by a malicious hack.

The computer network of the University of Texas at El Paso was turned off out of caution after a "potentially malicious intrusion" was detected in the early hours of Friday morning.

Email and the server hosting the university's website were affected by the incident, forcing faculty and students to communicate via Blackboard. The cyber-attack has also led to the closure of the university's walk-up COVID-19 testing sites.

IT staff have been working through the weekend to test each campus system and bring them back online one by one. 

Priority has been given to recovering the university's online teaching and learning systems. Faculty have been asked to extend deadlines for students who were impacted by the security incident. 

In a statement posted on social media on March 7, the university said that it did not think any personal information had been compromised in the attack. 

"Early Friday morning, UTEP detected an unauthorized and potentially malicious intrusion in our on-campus network," said the university.

"Following our standard procedures, we immediately turned off all of our campus systems and have been working throughout the weekend to test and bring each system back online after checking it thoroughly.

"We have been checking diligently and we are not aware of any personal information that has been compromised. Of course, we will continue to look for this in the coming days."

Until the network is restored, all students, staff, and non-essential faculty have been asked to work from home. 

"We are trying to have Blackboard up and running beginning Monday morning so that all online classes can resume. Faculty should work with students and adjust deadlines and coursework accordingly. Because faculty and staff email continues to be down, faculty and students should communicate via Blackboard regarding any questions about in-person classes," said a UTEP spokesperson.

"We are also continuing to work to safely bring all of our other systems online. This is a time-consuming process because every machine on campus must be checked. We will accomplish this as quickly and safely as possible."

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