Nearly a week after being on the receiving end of a cyberattack that delayed the start of spring classes and temporarily forced its networked systems offline, Wallace State Community College welcomes students back to campus Wednesday as it works with law enforcement to trace the attack’s origins.
Wednesday's Jan. 8 start date meets the college’s timeline of delaying the return of students by only two days, after the school’s Information Technology department had to move quickly to secure its online computing systems after learning of the cyberattack late last week. Prior to the attack, spring classes had been set to resume on Jan. 6.
While most students are likely to meet with few obstructions blocking access to the online learning systems they’re used to, WSCC director of communications and marketing Kristen Holmes said Tuesday that campus-wide wireless internet access points, which were taken offline as a precaution last week, will come back online in increments through the week, with the Bailey Center serving as the first place students will be able to log on.
“Guest wi-fi is available to students in the Bailey Center, and will be restored to additional campus locations throughout the week,” said Holmes. “Email is available, and the Wallace State Library and Bookstore are open. Blackboard [Wallace State’s online learning portal] is available to students.”
Holmes stressed that no student or employee data was compromised in the attack, and that access to online registration via the myWallaceState student portal has not been affected. The spring registration deadline has been extended to Jan. 15, and the college is waiving late registration fees for the spring semester.
While most student-facing services will be up to speed as classes resume, faculty, staff, and some students will experience some temporary inconveniences as the IT department continues to bring all the school’s systems back online.
“Phones in the Bailey Center are working, though they are down on other parts of campus and the main number is experiencing spotty outages,” she said, noting that students may email or leave phone messages for instructors.
Wallace State officials are cooperating with the FBI, which is leading an investigation into the cyberattack. With the investigation unfolding, the college has not shared information on potential suspects, or a motive. “An active FBI investigation is underway, so I’m sure more information will be forthcoming,” said Holmes. “We appreciate the Alabama Community College System and our sister institutions for their assistance in helping us get ready for the start of classes.”
For access to a faculty email directory, as well as additional links and information about how the cyberattack has affected the start of the spring semester, visit wallacestate.edu/cybersecurity.