Canadian Security Magazine

Cybersecurity issue delays in-person classes at Memorial University of N.L. campus

The Canadian Press   

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A Memorial University campus in western Newfoundland is the latest Canadian post-secondary institution to be grappling with what officials are calling a “cybersecurity incident.”

The beginning of most in-person classes for the winter semester at Memorial’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, N.L., will be delayed until Monday because of information technology problems, according to a statement posted to Memorial’s website. Classes at the campus, which includes the Western Regional School of Nursing, had been scheduled to begin on Thursday.

“Memorial is actively working with cybersecurity experts to conduct a forensic investigation to determine the cause and scope of the issue. This investigation is in its early stages and will likely take some time to complete,” said another statement, posted Saturday. “Memorial’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated and a team of pan-university experts are working together to mitigate impacts on academic, research and administrative activities.”

Officials said they first noticed problems on Friday. The issues have since been confirmed to be linked to a “cybersecurity incident,” and police have been notified, the statement said.


Several Canadian universities have been hit by cyberattacks in recent years. Officials at the University of Waterloo managed to interrupt a ransomware attack against its online systems in May. In April, the University of Guelph announced it had begun notifying people whose personal data may have been accessed by hackers in an attack against the school’s IT systems the year before.

In 2021, both Simon Fraser University and Lakehead University were hit by separate attacks. Lakehead extended its winter break for four days to give its teams more time to restore its systems.

It’s not clear if any personal data was breached in the ongoing incident at Memorial, though the school said it would notify anyone who may have been affected.

Online courses offered through Grenfell will begin as scheduled, as will all classes at Memorial’s other campuses, the university said.

Memorial’s Marine Institute, which is based in St. John’s, said Saturday that its IT systems had been shut down “as a precaution,” though there is no evidence campuses beyond Grenfell were affected.

Nobody from Memorial University was available for an interview Tuesday.

Sean Murray, a director with the province’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, said Memorial notified the office about the incident, but it’s too early to say whether the commissioner will be investigating.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 2, 2024.

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