On September 3, 2021, the Howard University information technology team detected unusual activity on the university’s network. In accordance with the university’s cyber response protocol, and to mitigate potential criminal activity, the university shut down its network to investigate the situation.
The IT team at the university determined that Howard had experienced a ransomware cyberattack. In order to give its IT team more time to address the issue, the university canceled classes on September 7 and 8, and told all non-essential workers to stay home. Campus Wi-Fi was not available. On September 9, in-person classes resumed but all online courses remained suspended.
In a statement, the university said that “this is a moment in time for our campus when IT security will be at its tightest. We recognize that there has to be a balance between access and security; but at this point in time, the university’s response will be from a position of heightened security. This is a highly dynamic situation, and it is our priority to protect all sensitive personal, research and clinical data. We are in contact with the FBI and the D.C. city government, and we are installing additional safety measures to further protect the University’s and your personal data from any criminal ciphering.”