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Lincoln College closes 157 years later due to COVID and cyber attacks: NPR

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Lincoln College closes 157 years later due to COVID and cyber attacks: NPR

The closure of Lincoln College is a shocking turn for a small Illinois college that accepts first-generation students and qualifies as an educational institution predominantly black.

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The closure of Lincoln College is a shocking turn for a small Illinois college that accepts first-generation students and qualifies as an educational institution predominantly black.

© Google Earth 2022

The 1918 flu pandemic could not have led to the fall of Lincoln College. Neither the Great Depression nor World War II could. Survived a major fire and economic hardship. But the college closes forever on Friday – the victim of two modern defeats: the COVID-19 pandemic and the cyber attack.

It’s a shocking turn for a small Illinois private school that has taken in thousands of first-generation college students and claims federal recognition as an institution predominantly black, or PBI.

“Lincoln College has been serving students from around the world for over 157 years,” College President David Gerlach said in a statement. school website. “The loss of the history, career and community of students and graduates is enormous.”

Students, alumni and staff mourn this decision

“There were tears” when the college’s board of trustees voted to close the institution, said trustee Catherine Harris WGLT membership station Illinois State University.

“It hurts for teachers, of course, for students, for graduates, for the city of Lincoln and for Logan County,” Harris said. “It hurts me a lot because … for a lot of students, especially black students, they’re the first in their family to go to college. I’m proud of them … but those students who are just another semester – uh, it hurts.” .

The decision to close was announced in late March when Gerlach informed students that the college would cease operations after the end of the spring semester. Current and former students said they felt blinded by the school, which offered them opportunity and safe haven from uncertain circumstances.

“This whole campus just can’t be lost. It’s too necessary,” said recent graduate Ariel Williams, a native of Chicago who was president of the Lincoln Black Student Union. said WGLT in April. “I don’t think people understand what it’s going to do with a generation of students.”

Lincoln was on the rise. Then came COVID-19 and a cyber attack

In the fall of 2019, Lincoln College had a record set, filling dormitories. But the pandemic struck a few months later, disrupting campus life and limiting the school’s ability to raise money and recruit new students. COVID-19 forced the school to shell out money for new technology and security measures at a time when there was a significant drop in enrollment as students suspended their careers at the college.

Then, in December 2021, there was an attack on ransomware programs that “disrupted admission activities and impeded access to all institutional data,” the college said.

Cyberattack blocked important data that the college uses to design its academic and economic future. When he finally regained access to his computer systems in March, the news was appalling: the fall enrollment of about 630 full-time students would be almost not enough to bolster his accounts. It took a “transformational donation or partnership” for the school to continue to exist until the summer, the report said.

According to Gerlach, the attack on ransomware programs took place in Iran. The school paid less than $ 100,000 to rebuild its systems, he said Chicago Tribune. But the college will need a lot more money – as much as $ 53 million, Gerlach said interview with WGLT – guarantee its long-term survival.

Cyberattacks have repeatedly targeted U.S. schools

At least 14 U.S. colleges and universities and nine school districts have been affected by the demands of ransomware programs so far in 2022, according to Bret Kelly, a threat analyst at Emsisoft, a cybersecurity company based in New Zealand. Data was stolen in 13 of the 23 cases.

Callow says hackers are setting up their ransom demands for each victim.

“The amount requested by the attackers varies greatly depending on the organization they are affected by,” Callow said. “Typically, they had access to the organization’s financial data – they would know if it had insurance, such as cyber insurance, and what the coverage limits were.”

Over the past two years, ransomware programs have affected more than 80 educational organizations, Callow told NPR. In 2021, it included 62 school districts and 26 colleges and universities.

Asked why the education sector seems particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, Callow said many school districts and colleges are facing such security concerns for the first time.

“School districts mostly have to develop their own security networks, and you see these very small areas with little or no IT experience trying to develop a strategy – and pay for – measures such as quarterly penetration testing and round-the-clock network monitoring.

A common threat has made insurance a burden: in the public school area of ​​Bloomington, about 30 miles northeast of Lincoln, recently occurred the price of cyber insurance has skyrocketed from $ 6,661 to $ 22,229.

The small town loses its local institution

Lincoln College was chartered in 1865 and named after Abraham Lincoln. It is located in the small town of Lincoln with a population of about 13,300 people, according to U.S. Census Bureau.

In the last decade Lincoln transitional from a junior college back to the origins of a four-year institution. He plays a prominent role in the local community, creating sports teams and managing student radio and television stations. But a fundraising campaign aid to the school did not reach its $ 20 million goal.

Due to the imminent closure, Lincoln College has dedicated its website to answering the many questions now facing its students, alumni and staff. He is also working on providing transcripts and sharing information to help them document the work they have done in school.

In its finale the ceremony began Last week, Lincoln awarded 235 students an adjunct, bachelor’s or master’s degree.

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