Hackers hijack NUST website and demand $6 billion to restore it

cyber

Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
THE National University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT) allegedly suffered cyber attacks yesterday with the hackers demanding more than $6 billion to restore information to their websites.

HIT public relations officer Mr Tinashe Mutema confirmed the attack on the institution’s website.

Nust director of Information and publicity Mr Felix Moyo maintained there had been no attack but students and lecturers insisted they could not access the website yesterday.

Mr Mutema said the hackers demanded a ransom of 1 000 Bitcoins, a virtual currency from anyone who attempted to log onto the website.

The institution has 2 000 students and more than 400 members of staff.

One Bitcoin is worth $2 667 online.

The hackers may have been targeting to get about $6,4 billion.

“I can confirm that we were attacked yesterday at around 4:30AM. Social media is however blowing the whole matter out of proportion. The attackers hacked into our website. They had temporary control of the servers hosting our website and emails. We pulled our systems from the internet until we managed to sort out the matter today (yesterday),” said Mr Mutema.

He said the institution had since engaged the police who are carrying out investigations.

“We realised that someone was intruding in our system and we are working with responsible authorities. We are fortifying our systems to prevent further attacks,” said Mr Mutema.

He said the institution had since sent a statement to its students regarding the matter.

“The Harare institute of technology would like to assure its students that contrary to social media reports, our ICT infrastructure is intact. Students are reminded that all communications regarding university business are issued through official channels and not social media. Accordingly, students are urged to disregard such information,” reads a statement sent to student.

A page which appeared on the HIT website during the attack partly read: “Harare Institute of Technology . . . forever hacked. Pay the ransom or lose all universities data. Owned by Lat life hackers. Encrypted all university staff and student emails. Encrypted all university records. Encrypted all files, students photos, financial records. WE OWN YOU HIT!!!.”

The message had a digital countdown to “zero hour” when all the data at the HIT website would be wiped out if the ransom was not paid.

Mr Moyo dismissed the allegations that the Nust website had been attacked.

“I have spoken to our IT department and as far as they are concerned, all is well. I am away at the moment in Harare and can access the website,” he said.

Nust students and academic staff who spoke to The Chronicle yesterday said they were failing to access the website and their individual accounts.

“I tried to log in to the students account and I was getting a funny animation instead. A cartoon with the message ‘something very bad has happened. Something really really bad happened’ kept popping up. I used a different network to log in and the page would just crash,” said a second year Nust student from the faculty of Communication and Information Science.

The university Student Representative Council tweeted that the website was inaccessible.

“Due to excessive power outages, portal access has been compromised temporarily. Technicians are on it now, keep checking your portal, #goodluck,” tweeted @NUSTZIM SRC.

Last night, the SRC tweeted that the university was back online.

However, students said they were still failing to access their accounts.

“There is no information in the accounts. It all reads null, from my name, registration number, modules and everything,” said a student who asked not to be named.

The Government is crafting a cyber bill to protect citizens online, especially regarding abuse of social media platforms to spread fake news.

The proposed law will, among other things, compel internet service providers to disclose the source of any content that is considered cyber crime, while courts will be expected to accept electronic evidence when culprits are being prosecuted.

Recent fake news reports such as alleged currency policy changes by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, subversive messages, insults as well as fake army and police recruitment messages, are some of the examples of abuse of social media.

@andile_tshuma

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  • Ronald Khumalo

    That’s alot of money.This kind of hack is designed to be unbreakable.If this story has any truth in it they are screwed BIG TIME

  • LihloLikazulu

    To mitigate this type of cyber attack, keep an up to date back up of all your data. DO NOT PAY anything to these low life criminals. Wipe out all your infected servers, reinstall and restore your backed up data. Experience has shown that there is no guarantee that your servers will be restored by these criminals even if you pay them.

    Keep your antivirus software up to date and avoid these free products if you are serious about your business continuity. Keep your operating systems up to date and you will minimize chances of these type of intrusions.

  • shasha

    Ko vanemawebsites anotoshanda?…heya

    • RejectedStone, Cornerstone

      stop being cynical. We are well against all odds and Zanu spite.

  • Hoko

    This kind of attack happened in Europe last month. More news on this type of ransomware http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39901382: A massive cyber-attack using tools believed to have been stolen from the US National Security Agency (NSA) has struck organisations around the world.
    Cyber-security firm Avast said it had seen 75,000 cases of the ransomware – known as WannaCry and variants of that name – around the world.
    There are reports of infections in 99 countries, including Russia and China.
    Among the worst hit was the National Health Service (NHS) in England and Scotland.
    The BBC understands about 40 NHS organisations and some medical practices were hit, with operations and appointments cancelled.

  • Good stuff Clive

    Everything is fine with nust website.Iam logged on the student portal as i write this comment.I bet reporters just took a last month news report about what happened elsewhere and now pretend that it has occurred in Zimbabwe.

    • RejectedStone, Cornerstone

      all is well…on the surface I suppose kkkk

  • Sbu

    kkkk NUST HACKED…..Yoh who has got time to hack a University which is so poor, using old Curriculum and not even found on top 100 Universities in Africa….LIngazo womana lina