UK: Lancaster University students’ data stolen in phishing attack (Updated with arrest)

Updated statement on Lancaster University cyber incident by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA):

A 25-year old man from Bradford has been arrested on suspicion of committing Computer Misuse Act (CMA) and fraud offences, following the recent cyber incident affecting Lancaster University.

Officers from the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU) arrested the man on Monday (22 July) and he has since been released under investigation while enquiries are ongoing.

More details on the phishing attack can be found on The Register, although media reports are not providing details about how law enforcement was able to catch the suspect so quickly.

Original post:

The Press Association reports:

Student data has been stolen in a “sophisticated and malicious” cyber-attack on a university.

Records and ID documents of some Lancaster University students were accessed in the phishing attack and fraudulent invoices were sent to undergraduate applicants, a spokesman for the university said.

The university said it became aware of the breach on Friday and set up an incident team to deal with the situation.

Read more on The Guardian.

A notice on the university’s website, posted yesterday, reads:

Lancaster University has been subject to a sophisticated and malicious phishing attack which has resulted in breaches of student and applicant data. The matter has been reported to law enforcement agencies and we are now working closely with them.

We are aware of two breaches of data:

1. Undergraduate student applicant data records for 2019 and 2020 entry have been accessed. This includes information such as their name, address, telephone number, and email address. We are aware that fraudulent invoices are being sent to some undergraduate applicants. We have alerted applicants to be aware of any suspicious approaches.

2. A breach has also occurred of our student records system and at the present time we know of a very small number of students who have had their record and ID documents accessed. We are contacting those students to advise them what to do.

We acted as soon as we became aware that Lancaster was the source of the breach on Friday and established an incident team to handle the situation. It was immediately reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office. Since Friday we have focused on safeguarding our IT systems and identifying and advising students and applicants who have been affected. This work of our incident team is ongoing as is the investigation by law enforcement agencies.

We are advising applicants, students and staff to contact us if they receive any suspicious communications via email: [email protected] or phone: 01524 510044.

Because this is a live investigation we will not be making any further comment at this stage.


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