University of Cambridge apparently suffering DDoS attack - and it isn't the only one affected

University of Cambridge
(Image credit: University of Cambridge)

The University of Cambridge is currently reported to be grappling with a widespread distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that is also causing disruptions across various other higher education institutions in the UK.

Students from multiple colleges have been alerted to the development, which has been impacting critical education IT services like CamSIS and Moodle, according to Varsity.

The news was confirmed by the head of User Services at the University's research computing services centre, Dr Stuart Rankin, who described the attack in an email to the university’s internet users as, “a deliberate flood of data generated by a large number of compromised machines on the internet.”

UK universities DDoS attack

The attack adds to the challenges already faced by the University, which is having its electronic legal deposit systems restored following an October 2023 attack on the British Library, the entity responsible for overseeing the system.

Repeated incidents are beginning to raise concerns about the vulnerability of academic institutions to cyber threats, emphasizing the need for more robust measures for detection, prevention and response.

As investigations unfold, students are advised to remain vigilant and exercise cybersecurity good practice, with the risk of future attacks potentially even more likely.

Anonymous Sudan has taken responsibility for the latest DDoS attack on Cambridge University. The group shared in its Telegram channel: “Reason for the attack: UK’s unconditional support for Israel and complicity on the ongoing genocide in Gaza as well as bombing campaigns on Yemen.”

The group also shared that it had attacked the University of Manchester.

As the story continues to develop, it’s unclear whether the hacking group has plans to execute any further attacks, but a separate report by KnowBe4 has revealed that British universities have become increasingly valuable targets for their affiliations with international research institutes, and those with significant geopolitical prominence could be at the highest risk.

According to the report, London-based universities saw more breached credentials than those from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, combined.

Besides DDoS attacks, the report highlights increasing cases of phishing attacks, impersonation, viruses, spyware and malware.

Lead security awareness advocate for KnowBe4, Javvad Malik, commented: “Phishing attacks, in particular, remain the most common tactic used by cybercriminals, making it more important than ever for institutions to strengthen their human firewall through security awareness training and to foster a robust security culture underpinned by a strong, comprehensive security programme.”

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