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University of Manchester says its data ‘likely copied’ in cyberattack


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The University of Manchester has said data has “likely been copied” during a cyberattack on its computer systems.

It is not yet clear what information has been accessed by the attackers, but staff and students have been advised to watch out for any suspicious emails.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and National Crime Agency are among the authorities working with the university’s own experts to resolve the incident.

A statement said: “We are working to understand what data have been accessed and will update you as more information becomes available.”

The university has apologised to its community for the breach, which is being investigated.

“Our priority is to resolve this issue and provide information to those affected as soon as we are able to, and we are focusing all available resources,” it added.

The university and the NCSC have warned all those potentially impacted should be “vigilant” of phishing emails – a common tactic used by internet fraudsters to scam people.

How to spot a scam email

While they can look legitimate at first glance, things to look out for include slightly off email addresses (numbers replacing visually similar letters in the domain name, for example), misspellings, and odd formatting.

If at all suspicious, you should not click any links in the email.

Muhammad Yahya Patel, lead security engineer at Check Point Software, said the incident showed the importance of universities having a “robust” cybersecurity strategy.

“The education sector is heavily targeted by cyberattacks owing to the value and volume of data they hold,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there is often less investment in education to underpin a robust cybersecurity strategy.”

He added: “The advice given so far has been limited, but I would be cautious about continuing on as usual until the university can be certain there are no more open entry points.”

Cyberattacks on Britain ramp up

The incident comes amid a spate of cyberattacks on British institutions and businesses this year, including the BBC, Boots, and British Airways (BA); which followed the targeting of Royal Mail, WH Smith, and JD Sports.

Many of the attacks have been linked to Russia, with the breach against the BBC, Boots, and BA having been carried out by cyber gang Clop.

Brett Callow, an analyst at the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, described it as “potentially one of the most significant breaches of recent years”.

Last month, British companies were urged to beef up their cybersecurity to protect the country from “ideologically motivated, rather than financially motivated” enemies who have started to target the UK.


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