The full extent of last week’s cyber-attack on MTU is yet to be confirmed.

MTU data ‘can be used for fraud’

Students and staff at MTU Cork have been back on campus since Monday while forensic experts continue to assess the damage caused by last week's cyber attack.

This week the college confirmed that data stolen during the attack by a group known as Blackcat has appeared on the dark web.

The nature of the data and the risk posed to staff and students at the university is still unknown, however, Director of the National Cyber Security Centre, Richard Browne, said in some rare cases people’s personal information can be used for fraud and other crimes.

Speaking to RTÉ radio’s 'Morning Ireland' on Monday, Mr Browne confirmed a substantial amount of data had been stolen and MTU will now have to “sift through” it to determine what, if any, personal information has been leaked.

He said the college will then need to go through the proper process with the Data Protection Commission (DPC).

“The type of attack in this case was not a phishing scam, this is not a simple one to deal with. These groups, particularly Blackcat, use a variety of different types of tools to break into systems without initial access, they use vulnerabilities,” said Mr Browne.

Going forward, Mr Browne said large organisations will need to be very much on top of their patching and their vulnerability management.

He continued: “This is an extremely prolific group, and their leak sight has over 250 victims. The group has only been active for less than 2 years.

“They will dump this data and walk away. For them, this attack is over, they’ve lost essentially, they’ve spent their money, they’ve not got anything back from it, they’re done.

“The question for us now is how do we limit the damage of that data being out there in the wild?”

Students and staff at MTU have been urged to remain vigilant as they return to campus.

In response to the incident and to mitigate its effects, MTU has secured an interim injunction from the High Court in an effort to prevent the sale, publication, sharing, or possession of the stolen data here in Ireland.