Iowa college resumes in-person instruction following cyberattack
Online classes remain canceled while the college's IT network is being restored
Students, faculty and staff at Des Moines Area Community College in Iowa have returned to in-person instruction on Wednesday after a cyberattack prompted its IT system to partially shut down on Friday, canceling classes for multiple days.
DMACC announced that it would close the college as it investigated a security incident, noting that IT assets including online instruction and its online telephone system may not be fully available.
College officials noted that class registration deadlines that were effective June 3 would be indefinitely extended until the situation is resolved. DMACC also advised faculty, staff and students to avoid using systems such as Blackboard and Office 365.
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In an update on Tuesday, the college said classes involving an in-person component would resume beginning Wednesday and would be held at their regularly scheduled times and locations. Courses scheduled to begin June 7 will meet for the first time on Thursday at regularly scheduled times and locations.
Meanwhile, classes offered online or virtual only remain cancelled until 24-hours after the network is restored in order give faculty time to modify schedules and assignments.
"I want to personally thank you for your patience and understanding as we work to get the DMACC computer network fully restored," DMACC President Rob Denson said in a message posted to the college's website. "Unfortunately network security issues have reached epidemic levels across the country."
"Our IT Department and outside cyber experts have been working around the clock to get full service restored and determine what, if any, data was compromised. We have also contacted the FBI and they have joined the investigation," Denson added. "I want to assure you that we are doing everything possible to get our systems operational again. As always, students are our top priority and we want to help them through this as we restart in person and virtual classes."
To date, there has been no evidence that any student or faculty information has been acquired or is at risk due to the incident, according to Denson.
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Des Moines Area Community College is the latest victim to be hit with a cyberattack this year, following similar attacks against truck maker Navistar International Corporation; the world's largest meat producer, JBS; the Massachusetts Steamship Authority; New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Law Department; and the Colonial Pipeline, a 5,500-mile system which transports 100 million gallons of gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and heating oil per day, or roughly 45% of fuel consumed across the East Coast, between the Gulf Coast and New York metro area.
Fall classes at DMACC are currently scheduled to begin on Aug. 25.
"While most face-to-face classes are scheduled to return this fall, the College plans to take additional proactive steps that represent thee "new normal" to keep students, faculty and staff safe," a cached version of the college's website reads. "Face masks are recommended until further notice. Plans to return to fully in-person operations could change depending on the state of the pandemic over the summer and into the fall."