Student Data Leaked in Western Sydney University Cyber Attack

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western Sydney university cyber attack

Western Sydney University has warned students that their data may have been accessed by hackers in a cyber attack targeting the university’s internal IT systems. 

Over 7,500 students were notified on Tuesday that their emails and personal files may have been compromised after an investigation by the WSU found hackers had compromised its Microsoft Office 365.

In a statement, the university said it believed some SharePoint files and emails were accessed, adding that its Solar Car Laboratory was identified as possibly being “used as part of the incident.”

“The investigation has indicated that the earliest known unauthorised access to the University’s Microsoft Office 365 environment was on 17 May 2023 and included access to some email accounts and SharePoint files,” the WSU’s statement reads.

“The University undertook its due diligence to understand the nature, scope and scale of the incident, the number of individuals impacted, and to protect against further harm. This was also done in accordance with the University’s legal obligations."

No ransom demand following cyber attack

The cyber attack was first identified in January 2024, with the network shut down quickly by the WSU and measures were put in place to prevent further access. 

The WSU has assured it has made additional changes to the network to improve its robustness and protect the student and staff information it holds since the breach.

It also stated that it had not received any threat ransom demand to prevent the data from being leaked since the attack, writing that “there have been no threats received by the University to disclose any of the private information which was accessed”

“Importantly, the University has not received any demands in exchange for maintaining privacy.”

“Monitoring and scanning indicates that the preventative measures, taken as a part of the incident response, have successfully prevented any further unauthorised access.

NSW Police and Cybersecurity firms involved 

Despite the absence of any ransom demands following the cyber attack on Western Sydney University, NSW Police and the NSW Information and Privacy Commission are working with the university as the investigation remains ongoing.

The university has also engaged two cybersecurity firms, CrowdStrike and CyberCX, to assist, who were asked to examine the extent of the breach and to advise on improvements to remediate and protect the network.

western sydney university cyber attack

WSU's Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor Clare apologised to those affected by the cyber breach.

"On behalf of the University, I unreservedly apologise for this incident and its impact on our community. It is deeply regrettable, and we are committed to transparently rectifying the matter and fulfilling our obligations," Professor said.

"We appreciate that this may be upsetting, and we are here to support you as we work through this together. We have established a dedicated phone line and website to answer any questions you might have."

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