50,000 students change password after hack

Repeated hack attacks have forced over 50,000 students in western Germany to change their university account passwords. Culprits already gained access to a number of inboxes since January, it was reported on Tuesday.

50,000 students change password after hack
Photo: DPA

The Ruhr University in Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, has been the target of a series of hacker attacks over the past three weeks, said the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung. At least 16 inboxes belonging to staff and students are known to have been accessed.

Experts have traced the IP address of the hackers to Russia, but university administration admitted that “whether the owners of the Russian computer are actually responsible for the attack is questionable,” Brigitte Wojcieszynski, head of the department for information security, told the paper.

Students have all received an email informing them of the attacks and recommending they change their passwords to help prevent hackers from gaining their information. What they could be after and why remains unclear, said Wojcieszynski.

The Local/jcw

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German experts see Russian link in deadly hospital cyber attack

German authorities probing a cyber attack on a hospital's IT system that led to a fatal delay in treatment for a critically ill woman believe the software used can be traced back to Russian hackers.

German experts see Russian link in deadly hospital cyber attack
Archive photo shows Düsseldorf University Hospital. Photo: DPA

In an update to lawmakers published on Tuesday, prosecutors wrote that hackers used malware known as “Doppelpaymer” to disable computers at Düsseldorf University Hospital on September 10th, aiming to encrypt data and then demand payment to unlock it again.

The same ransomware has been used in cyber attacks around the world carried out “by a group of hackers that, according to private security firms, is based in Russia”, the report said.

The attack saw the hospital's computer system become disconnected from the ambulance network.

A severely ill woman was therefore admitted to a hospital further away in Wuppertal and died shortly afterwards.

READ ALSO: Manslaughter probe as patient dies after Düsseldorf hospital hacking attack

The longer distance that the ambulance had to travel led to an hour's delay before medical staff were able to treat her.

Cologne prosecutors last week opened an investigation into involuntary manslaughter against unknown suspects over the woman's death.

If charges are brought, it would be a rare case of a hacking with deadly consequences.

Investigators suspect that the hackers had not meant to hit the hospital, with the actual target thought to have been the affiliated Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

Local police were able to contact the hackers during the attack to tell them patients' lives were at risk, prompting the hackers to hand over a decryption key before breaking off communication.

Germany has seen several hacker attacks on research and higher education institutions in recent months, including the University of Giessen, the University of Cologne and the Ruhr University Bochum.

The German government has in recent years blamed Russia for several high-profile attempts by hackers to spy on lawmakers or leading politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.