The F. Pouillon building on the campus of Aix-Marseille University. Image: Aix-Marseille / Facebook

Aix-Marseille, France’s largest university, hit by cyberattack

Aix-Marseille University, one of the oldest in France, announced on Wednesday that it had been hit by a cyberattack, sending staff home as they could not access the university network.

The institution’s management described the attack as coming “from a foreign country” but said its security systems triggered an alert allowing them to take the network offline before “great damage” was caused.

Local media reported the network was taken offline in a bid to interrupt the attack and prevent potential data breaches, according to an internal source cited by BFM Marseille.

Aix-Marseille, in southern France, was founded in 1409 and currently has around 80,000 students, more than any other university in the country.

The nature of the attack has not been confirmed and it is not yet known whether any data was stolen nor if an extortion note has been sent to the institution.

A spokesperson said Aix-Marseille would inform law enforcement if a data breach was discovered.

“The very rapid reaction of our services made it possible to avoid potentially significant damage,” said Clara Bufi, the university’s director of communications.

Although the university’s website had been inaccessible on Wednesday, it was back online again on Thursday morning.

Bufi said the university’s business resumption plan would continue gradually restoring services from Thursday onwards. She did not state how long this process would last.

Classes are still running, but students and staff are currently unable to engage in educational activities which depend on access to tools on the university network.

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Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin

is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.