Harvard University is now joining the ever-growing group of famous organizations sustaining high-profile security breaches, according to a statement released by school officials recently.
Harvard’s student publication, The Harvard Crimson, reported that Provost Alan M. Garber and Executive Vice President Katie N. Lapp released a statement on July 1 admitting that the breach had occurred on June 19.
The attack affected two computer systems, Fortune and the Boston Globe reported, which subsequently allowed hackers in invade the IT systems for eight colleges and offices in the university:
Harvard’s Central Administration
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Harvard Divinity School
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
Harvard Graduate School of Design
Harvard Graduate School of Education
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
T.H. Chan School of Public Health
School administrators stated that they do not believe any personal information was stolen, including PINs and emails, or that sensitive research data was leaked; nevertheless, the administration is encouraging all students and faculty members in the eight schools or offices to change their email passwords.
According to Fortune and Forbes, school officials are still not sure how much data was actually stolen, nor has the school identified the group responsible for the cyberattack; however, the fact that this is the second data breach the university has experienced within four months is a bit troublesome.
In the past few years, major security breaches have been limited in terms of the organizations targeted by hackers; although an average of 16,856 data breaches hit corporate and professional computer systems each year, these attacks tend to be geared toward major corporations and government agencies.
But as the Boston Globe reported, attacks on schools and universities have been growing at an alarming rate over the past few years; Penn State University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland have all experienced substantial security breaches.
Harvard’s first data breach affected its Institute of Politics when the college’s website was commandeered by the pro-Palestinian hacker group “AnonGhost,” but it’s unclear whether the same group is responsible for the second attack or not.