Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a private research university in Troy, New York state, US, is five days into dealing with a malware attack that has shut down much of its computer network on Friday. The attack impacted the university’s normal learning process hampering students as they prepare for the spring semester finals.
As the RPI announced on Sunday all final examinations, term papers, and project reports that were due on Monday and Tuesday had been canceled. Additionally, in an Instagram post, the school said the university modify the grading policies to adjust for the cancellations. The tests interrupted by Friday’s attack will be adjusted too.
The school has largely been secretive about the nature of the attack but said about an ongoing investigation:
“Rensselaer is investigating a trespass into our University network,” a message sent out to the RPI community stated. RPI has involved law enforcement to help resolve the situation. We have temporarily suspended access to the network as we work with law enforcement and cyber security experts to determine the extent of the trespass.”
On RPI’s Reddit page, one faculty member commented on the situation:
“The RPI faculty have been given no information about this cyberattack beyond that curious unsigned announcement yesterday. We don’t know what happened, how serious the damage was, what is being done, and when we might be back online. We also do not know if this is a widespread problem or unique to RPI,” the comment said.
Meanwhile, the school’s email system is down, and students, staff, and faculty can’t receive communications. The Student Information System used to access courses, catalogs, and other details for study, is offline too. Visiting those pages results in the “This site can’t be reached” error.
The attack took place as the world-renowned engineering school is in the middle of a class action as a judge is hearing a case against RPI in which students claim they are asked to pay for the education that is not possible because of the restriction caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
RPI has promised students it will assist those who are scheduled for online final exams.
“Accommodations will be provided to any student with online exams impacted by the suspended access to the network. Those affected will receive specific information from the Office of the Provost and/or the Academic Deans,” RPI said to students.