Massachusetts college recovers 80% of money stolen by hackers

WEST BARNSTABLE, Mass. — Cape Cod Community College has recovered more than 80 percent of the money stolen during a cyber-attack this past fall, according to an email dated Thursday from college president John Cox.

An investigation by banking and government authorities helped the school cover $677,594 of the $807,130 stolen.

“We are pleased to learn that this money has been recovered, and we remain focused how to prevent such cyber crime in the future,” Cox wrote.

Cox said the FBI has indicated there is no further information to share, because the investigation is ongoing.

In November, cyber criminals gained access to the college’s banking by using a combination of malware and sophisticated social engineering exploitation.

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Cox said bank information was compromised, but the cyber-thieves never gained access to any personal information, including student or employee records. Payroll and other financial services were also not impacted.

In the months since the attack, the college has worked closely with the state comptroller’s office and an independent consulting firm to monitor and review network security and best practices related to personal and professional cyber security.

Cox said the college has become a model for the complicated dangers of cybercrime.

“As we move forward, with current cyber security measures in place and on-going training to build awareness as the nature of cybercrime continues to evolved, we now turn to the future of making this a teachable moment,” Cox wrote. “There is much to learn from this experience for students, colleges and universities, and business large and small. The reality is that cyber-attacks are happening daily, as many points are within an institution.”

Cox said everyone needs to remain vigilant, especially when working with the internet, as the battle to push back against cyber-thieves is waged everyday and no one is safe.

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