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Recovery from cyber incident will be slow, Laurentian University warns

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A cyber hack that disrupted access to WiFi and all IT systems at Laurentian University was the focus of a town hall Zoom meeting Tuesday for students and faculty.

While there are more questions than answers, Laurentian IT staff said progress is being made but there are no timelines for restoration at this point.

Officials confirmed the cyber hack hit the school Feb. 18 at 7 a.m. By 9 a.m., the system was disconnected to contain it.

Full restoration is still days away.

The reason that we cannot confirm an ETA is because every time we bring something up and we verify it, we need a third party to verify it’s not calling foreign countries, that kind of stuff, so we need to be very careful,” said LU’s Luc Roy.

On campus, students said having no access to critical online learning and materials is stressful.

“It’s putting us in a bad spot for finishing assignments and being able to get graded and stuff,” said student Olivia Scola-Lawryshyn.

“It’s super frustrating and stressful.”

“All the due dates are getting really confusing because everything is going to be pushed back, or if it’s not been pushed back, it’s hard for teachers to email us about it being pushed back,” said Jesse Waugh, another student.

Students are stressed out

“Some of them don’t even have access to their emails apparently. So everything has just been like a cluster.”

“Very much impacted it because I can’t access anything right?” said student Alex McFadden.

“So any study materials we need, we don’t have access to unless they are on a paper copy.”

The IT department said its disaster recovery protocol is pretty much on track, but said there are still many unknowns about the impact of the cyber incident.

“We are still in the early stages of working on understanding what information may have been taken,” said LU’s Celeste Boyer.

“Of course unfortunately that’s all we can say right now today, but we are committed to being transparent on that.”

Roy said recovery is a long process.

“We have to painstakingly verify every channel that there is on the network to make sure it is not calling a foreign country,” he said.

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“That’s where our hackers are. It is painful but we are doing it.”

School officials are asking everyone for patience saying during rebuilding the network they have to be extraordinarily careful. 

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