GODFREY, Ill. (KMOV.com) -- Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey closed all their campuses this week and cancelled all extra-curricular activities, including sports. The move was made after the director of information technology noticed suspicious activity last Tuesday and shut down the school's computer network on Wednesday.
According to college president, Ken Trzaska, hackers got into the network but never gained control.
"Ultimately the best thing to do was to shut down, allow us the opportunity and the experts the opportunity to get a really clear sense, okay, what's happening here," he said.
Trzaska said the college eventually received an email with a request for an amount of money but he wouldn't say how much.
"That's pretty crazy for a cyber attack to be able to shut down everything on this campus. There's no sports, no nothing this whole week," said Trey Hemminghaus, a student.
The hack and subsequent campus shutdown comes just weeks before the end of the fall semester and beginning of the holiday break.
"I'm sure a lot of people are happy because we get a week off from school but yeah, we do have a lot of work to do," said student Caroline Lehan.
According to Trzaska, the college notified police and the FBI about the ransomware attack. On Friday, he said, a team of cybersecurity experts arrived and have been working around the clock since to restore the school's computer network stronger and safer than it was before.
"So they are seeing a surge in the past two years, I mean, simply because there's a lot of money there," said associate professor Dr. Abte Mtibaa at the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL).
Mtibaa is director of cybersecurity programs at UMSL. He said most ransomware attackers operate out of Russia, China and eastern Europe. He explained they're always trying to break into the computer systems for government agencies, businesses and colleges and universities.
"You cannot find any reasonable explanation on why this particular institution is attacked apart from they found a vulnerability," he said.
Trzaska initially said he expects the college's computer network to be back online and students back on campus by Monday. However, Sunday night, the school said employees would return Monday, with classes starting again Tuesday.