Harvard University has revealed that it discovered a breach of its IT systems back on June 19th, an incident which is believed to have affected eight separate schools and administrative organizations.
The university’s IT security teams have created a unique website whose aim is to explain to the Harvard community what happened.
“On June 19, Harvard discovered an intrusion on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Central Administration information technology networks,” the website’s “Cyber Alert” reads. “Since discovering this intrusion, Harvard has been working with external information security experts and federal law enforcement to investigate the incident, protect the information stored on our systems, and strengthen IT environments across the University.”
The schools affected by the breach include the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard Divinity School, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Central Administration, Graduate School of Design, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
At this time, the security teams have no evidence that Harvard emails that contained either personal or research data were compromised. Nevertheless, they are urging some members of the university’s community to change their passwords in the event that other information was stolen.
Harvard did not announce the breach until now as it did not want to jeopardize its efforts to enhance its IT systems’ security. These efforts, according to Provost Alan Garber, are underway and will likely require that those affected by the incident change their passwords once more.
“Higher education is one of the most targeted industry for cyber attacks, and Harvard frequently detects and repels threats,” a FAQs page regarding the breach reads. “As attacks become more sophisticated, information security teams must quickly adapt and respond to stay one step ahead.”
Harvard is not the first institution of higher education to be hacked. Rutgers University was the victim of at least two separate targeted attacks earlier this spring, which was followed by an attack against Penn State back in May.