Bluefield University was subject to hackers this week, with them taking over the Virginia university’s emergency alerts system and threatening to leak school files if the school doesn’t pay up, NBC News reported.
“We have admissions data from thousands of students. Your personal information is at risk to be leaked on the darkweb blog,” the messages said.
In messages via Bluefield’s RamAlert, hackers pushed university members to pressure on the university president. The hackers may be the first to use an emergency alert system to pressure a victim, said Brett Callow, an analyst at cybersecurity company Emsisoft.
Bluefield is advising students and faculty to not email from school accounts. Earlier this week, school information has not been published. Ransomware gangs frequently publish, remove, and republish victims’ data.
In 2020, at least 44 U.S. higher ed institutions were attacked with ransomware, Callow said. The hacker group named in Bluefield’s case is one that primarily speaks Russian in underground forums, said Allan Liska, ransomware expert at cybersecurity company Recorded Future.