Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences
Credit: Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences / Facebook

‘Serious hacker attack’ forces Frankfurt university to shut down IT systems

The Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences announced on Monday it was targeted by “a serious hacker attack” that has led to a total shutdown of its IT systems.

It is the latest in a string of disruptive cyber incidents to have affected German universities, particularly those specializing in applied sciences.

The nature of the attack has not yet been confirmed. The university stated it took place “around 8pm” on Saturday on a post replacing its normal homepage.

“Despite very high security precautions, the criminals managed to gain access to parts of the university's IT infrastructure,” the university said, adding it had reported the incident to “the police and the relevant authorities.”

External access to its IT systems and “some services” was turned off as a result of the incident, and the institution’s communications infrastructure has been restricted. Even “the elevators in the buildings cannot be used for safety reasons.”

“The extent of the attack cannot yet be estimated at this point in time,” the university said. “Unfortunately, it is therefore not yet possible to say when the IT systems and services will be available again to their usual extent.”

The university has around 15,000 students, although it is not clear whether the summer holidays might spare the bulk of them from being impacted by the incident. On-site courses are still running, Frankfurt stated.

It is not currently possible to enroll at the university online, nor is the institution reachable for external email messages or telephone calls.

The attack follows a spate of incidents affecting universities of applied sciences in Germany, or Hochschules, which specialize in engineering, technology, business and architecture.

Earlier this year, Hochschule Kempten announced being targeted by a criminal cyberattack. Similar incidents have recently affected the same kinds of institutions in Kaiserslautern, the Harz University of Applied Sciences in Saxony-Anhalt, Ruhr West University, the EU/FH European University of Applied Sciences, and the University of Duisburg-Essen, among others.

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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.