Cyber Security Hit Causes Widespread QUT System Outage

On Thursday, QUT experienced a cyber-attack involving rogue printers spouting demands in bulk and many systems becoming unavailable for students to access.  

And QUT Stalkerspace 2.1 is having a good laugh: 

“what does the T stand for in QUT again?” 

“Noooo QUT don’t press the suspicious link, you’re smarter than that. Hot girls don’t get hacked QUT.” 

“For a uni that does like, Cybersecurity courses you’d think their cyber would be secure”

This cyber breach impacts all students, and is a stark reminder of one of the biggest threats facing our internet-crazed ‘real’ world – ransomware.   

The ‘Royal Ransomware’ group, supposedly responsible for the attack, emerged early this year and is believed to be composed of a mix of former members of other ransomware groups based on similarities found between techniques and ransom notes. Already, the group has successfully attacked several high-profile organisations, most of which have been U.S. based (read more about the group here). 

The ransom note printed in bulk at QUT facilities mocks QUT’s security, suggesting the University’s system is cheap and ineffective. The note said “it may seem complicated, but..most likely what happened was that you decided to save some money on your secu[rity]”, and offers the university a ‘unique deal’ for a ‘modest royalty’. 

Photo Credit: Chester Wang 

While QUT investigates, the following systems will be down: 

  • HiQ 
  • Blackboard and eStudent 
  • Printers on campus 

Updates will be posted here when the website is restored. 

For students who are not studying over the summer, the lack of access may not be an impediment to their study. 

But this indefinite shut down may affect students completing summer semesters, students with deferred examinations, and graduates who were encouraged to download files while they could still access them, among others. This breach also disrupts the enrolment process of new students who have recently received offers for study, since the University cannot finalise their enrolments.  

Major news outlets around Australia have been reporting on this story (7News, ABC, Courier Mail). Speaking to the ABC, QUT Vice-Chancellor Margaret Sheil confirmed her own printer had been caught up in the breach. 

“In my case, it printed out until there was no more paper in my printer,” she said. 

The Vice Chancellor also assured students that the University has plans in place for dealing with cybersecurity attacks. 

The QUT Student Guild President has indicated she is unavailable for comment at this time.  

Glass will bring you more in depth coverage of this story in the new year. 


Konstanz Muller Hering
Konstanz Muller Hering

Konstanz (she/ they) is a Meanjin/Brisbane-based writer and QUT Creative Writing graduate. Konstanz was a Glass editor, and now contributes as an alumni.

Articles: 23

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