No personal information compromised in network ‘intrusion’ that shut down UTEP’s online services in March

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — No personal information was compromised in an unauthorized intrusion of the University of Texas at El Paso’s digital network in early March, according to university officials. The intrusion caused a campus-wide network outage for three days, disrupting access to online services for students, faculty and staff.

“To date, we have no indication that data was exfiltrated nor that personally identifiable data was compromised. All administrative servers were backed up four hours before the incident, and all of them have been restored and were back online earlier this week,” stated an email that went out to the campus on Friday from UTEP President Dr. Heather Wilson. “A very small number of faculty were impacted by research servers or computers that were damaged and did not have recent backups. I have met personally with those faculty to address their specific situations.

In the email, Wilson said that the university may never know exactly what happened.

“Although we expect a report in the next couple of weeks, we may never know exactly where the intrusion occurred or how it happened,” the email stated.

Wilson said in the email that the university’s next step is to review all of UTEP’s “systems and prepare for new federal requirements related to cybersecurity for research universities that we know are coming. We plan to involve a cross-campus working group in this process, including faculty and staff with relevant expertise. We may also use an outside consulting firm to bring expertise from elsewhere and help guide our work.”

Wilson also mentioned that no remote computers or laptops were affected and that most desktops on campus had up-to-date software that worked.

The outage was first reported on March 5 and students were still experiencing issues on March 8. The network issues affected access to online services that are key in delivering assignments, exams and communication.

On March 7, the university released a statement saying that an unauthorized and potentially malicious intrusion was identified in its digital network on March 5, causing the university to turn off all campus systems. That led to campus-wide network issues over the next few days.

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