BianLian Ransomware Claims Dordt University Data Breach

The ramifications of this Dordt University data leak are profound, with a staggering revenue of $36.2 million and a data cache of approximately 3 terabytes compromised.

by Ashish Khaitan June 14th, 2024

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Dordt University, a distinguished private Christian liberal arts college renowned for its reformed Christian perspective on education, has encountered a cybersecurity incident carried out by the BianLian ransomware group. The Dordt University data breach has listed a substantial amount of sensitive information online, leaving both the institution and its stakeholders in a state of vulnerability.

The ramifications of this Dordt University data leak are profound, with a staggering revenue of $36.2 million and a data cache of approximately 3 terabytes compromised. Among the trove of exposed data are intricate financial records, personnel files, vital databases, internal and external email correspondences, incident logs, as well as comprehensive student profiles encompassing both local and international enrollees. 

Unverified Claims of Dordt University Data Breach

Source: Dark Web

According to the threat actors, even minors’ data has reportedly fallen prey to this Dordt University breach, alongside personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health records (PHI).

Despite the gravity of the situation, official responses from Dordt University have yet to materialize, leaving the authenticity of the claims surrounding the Dordt University data leak in a precarious limbo. 

Notably, the BianLian ransomware group seems to have targeted the database infrastructure rather than executing a frontal assault on the university’s website, suggesting a meticulously orchestrated campaign targeting the institution’s digital backbone.

The Rise of BianLian Ransomware Group

The BianLian ransomware group has carried out similar cyberattacks in the past and this Dordt University data leak has prompted a collaborative effort from cybersecurity agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), to disseminate crucial intelligence on the modus operandi of the BianLian ransomware and data extortion group.

Originating in June 2022, BianLian has brazenly targeted critical infrastructure sectors in both the United States and Australia, leveraging tactics such as exploiting valid Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) credentials and employing open-source tools for reconnaissance and credential harvesting.

The evolution of BianLian’s extortion tactics, transitioning from double-extortion encryption schemes to data exfiltration-based coercion since January 2023, highlights the escalating sophistication of cyber threats faced by modern organizations. In response, FBI, CISA, and ACSC have issued a joint cybersecurity advisory, urging critical infrastructure entities and small- to medium-sized organizations to fortify their defenses against ransomware groups by implementing robust mitigation strategies outlined in the advisory.


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