Long Beach Community College computer users experienced a breach in their online systems at the beginning of the month.

That breach resulted in the shutdown of all LBCC's systems. Students and faculty were not able to access their email accounts or register for classes, and it left just about every part of the school's system inaccessible to its registered users.

According to LBCC officials, the breach happened at the beginning of the school's spring break — Tuesday, April 3.

Students were informed of the severity of the situation through text message as it became very apparent that access to systems was not only limited, but largely unavailable.

"LBCC experiencing technology problems due to malware. No indication that data has been compromised at this time...Working: phones and student center. Not working: LBCC.edu email, Student Viking System and online schedule," one text said.

In another statement to students and faculty, Reagan Romali, superintendent/president at LBCC, said that the breach was the result of ransomware, but offered no further information.

By definition, ransomware is a malicious software. If downloaded, it can collect the system data and prevent the owner from accessing the information until a ransom is paid. 

However, in an email to students on April 18, Romali said that incident was not a hacking — and officials are not completely sure how it happened.

"The recovery of our systems is moving at a sure and steady pace," Romali said. "LBCC’s IT team has rebuilt a skeleton People Soft Student system (Viking System) so staff at the Admissions & Records and Financial Aid offices can assist students."

According to LBCC's Viking News, some computers were wiped clean, with at least one professor saying that his computer had lost important data, including work and other system files.

By the end of the first week, users had access to their LBCC.edu email accounts, but other areas were still pending. Students were not able to register for classes and according to students, some deadlines were extended because content was not accessible or temporarily lost.

Because of the system-wide outage, the date for summer session registration was moved to begin on May 7. Summer classes will begin as expected on June 13.

As for the cause, as of today, Thursday, officials still do not know.

"We don't know the cause of all of this," Stacey Toda, LBCC's public information officer said earlier in the week.

The school's systems are currently up and running. For details on the status of the various systems, go to lbcc.edu/itupdate.

Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at sstutzman@gazettes.com.

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