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Central Piedmont Community College experiences ransomware attack

Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 3:40 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Central Piedmont Community College announced Friday that it had experienced a ransomware attack.

According to the college, staff members discovered the attack Feb. 10. The college’s critical systems were taken offline through the night.

The college is working with the North Carolina Community College System Cyber Incident Response Team, the N.C. Department of Public Safety, the F.B.I and other agencies to determine the extent of the attack and restore any affected systems.

So far, no employee or student data has been found to be compromised.

CPCC phones, email, Blackboard and Brightspace all remain off-line.

The college said that it realizes the situation has impacted classes, assignments and deadlines. Instructors will communicate specifics about managing class assignments once systems are brought back online.

Any college updates will be sent out through text, voicemail, social media and cpcc.edu.

WBTV spoke to David Sims, CEO of Security First IT, in a Zoom interview Friday evening. Sims explained how hackers use ransomware attacks to target businesses and institutions.

“(It) encrypts all the files either on the system or all the files that may be of a specific type and they won’t allow you access for a lot of those files unless you pay the ransomware,” said Sims.

He said more of these attacks have been happening in recent years and they can be very serious for large institutions like schools and hospitals.

“Worst case scenario you’re looking at replacing everything because you don’t know the extent of the damage and the extent of the infiltration of what happened and you will literally replace all of the computer systems and rebuild all the data if you can do that,” said Sims.

CPCC said it is not clear when the off-line systems are going to be restored.

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