University of Neuchâtel hit by cyberattack

Neuchâtel University’s computer systems have been blocked as a security measure, causing disruption to work and study. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The University of Neuchâtel has suffered a cyberattack, becoming the latest Swiss institution to be attacked in this way.

This content was published on February 18, 2022 – 17:15


After the first signs of the cyberattack late on Thursday, the university in western Switzerland took security measures, including blocking all its computer systems, Nando Luginbühl, head of its press office, confirmed on Friday.

This makes it impossible for the moment to work or study. Luginbühl said the relevant services of the university were working urgently to find a solution but could not give a time frame for a return to normal.

“It is very likely that malicious people are behind the attack,” he told the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA, but he did not give any indication of who might be behind it.

There has been a recent upsurge in cyberattacks in Switzerland. Price comparison website Comparis was shut down in July by attackers demanding $400,000 (CHF370,000) to put it back online. At the time, a Comparis spokesperson told SWI that no ransom had been paid.

The Stadler rail company, defence contractor RUAG, and the canton Vaud municipality of Rolle have also been targets.

Companies warned

Meanwhile, the National Cyber Security Centre has sent a registered letter to 130 companies and local authorities urging them to install security patchesExternal link for Microsoft Exchange Servers, which are used to manage emails, meetings and contacts, for example.  

“The security vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Servers, which have been known for a long time, are being actively exploited by cybercriminals to install encryption Trojans,” it said, referring to a term for ransomware.

The National Cyber Security Centre said it had emailed over 4,500 businesses and local authorities last year about the security vulnerability and included instructions on how to remedy it. But “despite several follow-up attempts, not all affected parties have yet taken the necessary action”, it said.

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