Iowa State Foundation part of international ransomware attack

By: - July 29, 2020 4:24 pm

The campanile is a symbol of Iowa State University and is located on central campus. (Photo by Perry Beeman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

A contractor for the Iowa State University Foundation was the victim of an international ransomware attack that may have included people’s donation amounts, dates of birth, and phone numbers.

The New York-based contractor, cloud computing giant Blackbaud, paid an undisclosed ransom and confirmed the information was destroyed and would not be used. The company is watching its system to confirm the cyberattack is not still threatening records, the ISU Foundation reported.

The foundation said it does not store Social Security numbers, bank account information, or credit and debit card data, “therefore none of this information was part of the incident.” 

“We do not believe there is a need for you to take any action at this time,” the foundation wrote in a statement sent to members. As a best practice, we recommend that you remain vigilant and promptly report to the proper law enforcement authorities any suspicious activity or suspected identity theft.”

“We sincerely apologize for this data breach of our vendor Blackbaud’s system and regret any inconvenience it may cause you,” foundation administrators wrote. “We take data protection very seriously and deeply value our continued relationship with Iowa State’s dedicated alumni and friends.”  

 The foundation reported that the breach happened between Feb. 7 and May 20. The ISU Foundation was not informed until July 16 and is investigating the delay. 

The cybercrime affected universities and nonprofits around the world, including the Auburn University Foundation, Middlebury College and the UK National Trust.

Blackbaud stopped the attack and brought in forensics experts and law enforcement to prevent the hackers from blocking or encrypting files.

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