ITS service interruption released; UNF upgrades firewall

Hayley Simonson, Police Reporter

An ITS service interruption was released by UNF shortly after Flagler College, in St. Augustine, announced that one of their databases was the target of a ransomware attack. 

The University of North Florida’s ITS service interruption came out on Sept. 23. It stated: “Due to an emergency upgrade, the Forticlient VPN service will be offline, as well as VPN tunnel connections to Microsoft Azure. The VPN service outage is expected to last less than one hour.” 

Jeffrey Gouge, Assistant Director of IT security at UNF said, “I can confirm the outage was not the result of any cyber security event.” He said that the purpose of the outage had to do with a planned upgrade to the firewall, which is a system that helps secure the edge of a network by preventing unauthorized access. A work-around was in place that morning, allowing for services to continue work as expected, according to Gouge. 

A ransomware attack is a malicious cyber security tactic that infects a software with messages that demand fees for the system to work properly again. Blackbaud is a third-party service provider that creates software for colleges. This provider is used by Flagler and The University of North Florida.

Flagler recently revealed a database containing information on alumni, donors, and friends was breached back in May of 2020. Blackbaud detailed the event on their website confirming that they expelled the cybercriminals from their system successfully. However, they had to pay a ransom demand to ensure a stolen copy of data would be deleted.


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