‘Cyberattack’ shuts down virtual learning platform

London centre that hosts Moodle environment affected

May 21, 2015

A cyberattack on the University of London Computer Centre left millions of staff and students at 150 higher and further education institutions without access to their virtual learning environment this morning.

The attack also left numerous university and higher education sector websites down, including the Universities UK site, that of education technology provider Jisc and the European Library.

The ULCC hosts the Moodle virtual learning environment in universities across the UK. Among the universities tweeting that their services were affected were Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Warwick, Birkbeck, University of London and Queen Mary University of London.

Some three million registered Moodle users are hosted by the ULCC, and a spokesman for the centre confirmed that the “whole system” had been affected from around 7:30am to 11:45am, and that a “complete shutdown” had taken place.

The timing is problematic, since it is exam season at many universities – a time when many students need to access the online learning environment.

A statement from the ULCC, issued at midday, read: “All our services are now up and running again! The networking issue was caused by a cyber attack. We have taken action to block the source. An incident report will be produced and shared in due course.”

The spokesman said that the ULCC was unable to disclose specific details about the attack, although it is thought to have come from an institution in the UK.

A debrief will take place tomorrow, and further information about the attack and its affects will be published on the ULCC website.

chris.parr@tesglobal.com

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Reader's comments (6)

150 institutions and millions of students affected? DId any of the IT manager's at those institutions think through the risk of making themselves dependent on such a vulnerable pinch-point? Seems like they simply adopted the herd mentality! ("Moodle good; everything else bad!")
"Moodle good; everything else bad!" From the information in the article (and elsewhere) this appears to be a network denial of service attack, nothing at all to do with Moodle. Criticising the choice of Moodle is like if the O2 phone service had an outage and people blamed the iPhone.
Isn't the issue here more to do with risk of 'clouding' services to a single point of failure. Moodle was not the issue here; the 'herd' mentality of outsourcing key student services is the issue.
Correct Marcus - not an attack on Moodle, but on the ULCC, which hosts Moodle for many UK universities across the UK.
"Isn't the issue here more to do with risk of 'clouding' services to a single point of failure. " I would agree with that. If you think of the word "cloud" as "someone elses computer", it gives a better idea of where the risk lies.
Someone probably just tried to upload more than 20MB of course notes in one go... ;-)

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

PhD Position in Archaeology and Cultural History

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Energy and Process Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Energy and Process Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD position in Industrial Energy Efficiency

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Postdoc in Traffic Engineering

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes