Ransomware Groups Target US Universities – Columbia College of Chicago Gets Hit

Columbia College, Chicago | Image source: Study in the USA

Cyber attacks are rising everyday, destroying the medical industry and many businesses. Recent reports have shown that colleges are under attack as well.

Columbia College of Chicago has joined the list as the third college to fall victim to cyber attacks. The incident involves Netwalker, a part of the ransomware group.

Michigan State University (MSU) and University of California (UCLA) are the top two US universities on the list of cyber attacks. These colleges were targeted by cyber criminals in order to demand ransom in exchange of the stolen files and confidential data.


Netwalker is the infamous malware that is popularly known as Mailto, first found operating in September of 2019. It operates by encrypting the stolen files and renaming it with the developers’ email address. It then creates an extension with the targeted victim’s unique ID.

Attack on Columbia University happened on June 3rd, a week after MSU got hit.
Cyber criminals responsible for these attacks have disclosed that a lot of sensitive data like social security numbers and other private information has been compromised.

Lauren Pernot, Columbia University’s Chief of Staff, claimed on Columbia Chronicle that the attack was detected on June 5th by the university’s IT servers and the attack was limited to only a few servers.

Pernot wrote, “Some college, employee and student data was accessed by the perpetrators, though the exact nature and extent of that is still being determined,

An update in the hacker’s blog confirmed that some colleges have surrendered to the demands of the ransomware group.