The recent disruption to Elizabeth City State University’s computer system was caused by a cyberattack, the ECSU chancellor said Thursday.

University officials had hinted before Thursday that the disruption, which shut down both online classes and so-called “hybrid” classes featuring a mix of online and in-person instruction, was caused by a cyberattack, noting law enforcement had been contacted.

But Chancellor Karrie Dixon’s message to students Thursday officially confirmed the disruption was caused by a cyberattack.

“Through the course of the investigation we have learned that ECSU was the victim of a cyberattack,’ she said. “The actions of the criminals who attacked our computer network have caused a great deal of frustration for all of you. I share your frustration. I know this incident raises many questions and concerns.”

Dixon said as soon as the cyberattack was discovered Sept. 13, university officials “immediately went to work,” consulting with cybersecurity experts, law enforcement and the UNC System Office.

“We launched a full-scale investigation, put additional security measures in place to protect our computer network, and brought systems back online as soon as we could do so safely,” she said. “Thanks to the efforts of our team, we’ve made great progress.”


Dixon said online instruction is up and running and employees will get paid on time. She also said other services were restored Thursday that will allow the university to start processing student refunds.

“We are continuing to implement enhanced security measures to further secure our computer network,” Dixon said.

Dixon said she is proud of how the university has responded. Only two days of academic instruction were lost even though the learning management system was offline for 10 days, she noted.

“I’m proud of our staff who continued to provide essential services and kept our campus safe,” she said. “I’m proud of our students who remained focused on their studies. I’m proud of our leadership team and IT staff who have worked around-the-clock to manage this incident calmly and effectively.”

Dixon said the criminal and forensic investigation of the cyberattack is still ongoing, and that she will share more details as she is able.