Dear students, prospective students, and Furtwangen University employees,
Unfortunately our IT infrastructure has suffered a hacker attack. As a result, the entire IT infrastructure of the university is currently unavailable. This includes email communication and everything for which you require your university login to access (also from home). Our website and all central services including the learning platform FELIX and the libraries are also affected.
The news bulletins below are ordered chronologically.
We will keep you informed here of any new developments.
The university management
Data protection information for employees, students and partners of the university
Based on the information available to us from the analyses of the cyber attack on our university, we know that data has been leaked. As a first step, we are informing you about this as part of our obligation to notify you pursuant to Article 34 of the GDPR.
On 18 September, 2023, a cyber attack occurred at Furtwangen University. As a first measure, we shut down all systems and took them offline. According to current knowledge, the malware may have been introduced into our IT systems before this date. It cannot be ruled out that the attackers will make the leaked data available to undetermined third parties. Parts of this data may be of considerable relevance under data protection law.
What you must now pay attention to!
1. Follow the instructions of Furtwangen University regarding the reassignment of your passwords and the establishment of the further security architecture for the HFU services.
2. If you use your previous HFU password with other services, change the passwords with different services to passwords that are independent of each other. It is generally not recommended to use the same password multiple times or similar passwords. Avoid using personal characteristics when assigning passwords.
3. If you have saved passwords on the central file storage of Furtwangen University or on your end devices, make sure to change them.
4. Pay special attention to phishing campaigns via email and other communication channels in which you are asked to provide login data or are redirected to third-party sites where you are asked to register by providing your data. Also question such requests that contain personal information about you in order to build up supposed trust.
What is Furtwangen University doing?
All affected systems have been shut down. We have begun to completely rebuild HFU's central IT infrastructure. The findings and recommendations of the external service provider, the investigating authorities and the Baden-Württemberg cybersecurity agency gained in the course of the incident are being implemented in the new security architecture in a university-specific manner. This means both technical and organisational changes. The reconstruction will be carried out in stages and prioritised. It may still take several months before all IT systems are fully restored and transferred.
We have engaged an IT crisis service provider to help us manage the IT security incident. Furthermore, we have reported the incident to the State Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (LfDI) in accordance with Art. 33 DSGVO. We will continue to inform you on an ongoing basis, including via this website, in general terms as well as with regard to reporting requirements pursuant to Art. 34 DSGVO.
The official Data Protection Officer of Furtwangen University has been involved. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email at Email application is started:datenschutz(at)hfu.eu.
Rolf Schofer, Rector and Andrea Linke, Chancellor of Furtwangen University
Faculty pages online
Furtwangen University's nine faculties are now also providing information about faculty-specific news and events on their own Internal link opens in the same window:faculty pages.
First semester students (freshers) programme
The orientation programme for our new students can be found on the Freshers Welcome page.
Press release: Security has top priority
At Furtwangen University (HFU), the rebuilding of the IT structure after last week's cyber attack is progressing rapidly. In the meantime, a support system has been set up to which those affected can send questions at any time. New mail addresses have also been introduced, initially for all employees. Employees in all areas and faculties of the university are also available on site as contact persons in order to find a solution for each individual problem.
However, the extent of the damage caused by the cyberattack is still impossible to predict. "We have huge amounts of data at HFU that we are currently unable to access for security reasons," explains HFU Rector Professor Dr. Rolf Schofer. The technical analyses are still ongoing. Unfortunately, he says, it must be assumed that not all encrypted data can be recovered. "We also cannot rule out the possibility that data was stolen," Schofer said.
In cyber attacks on other universities, data that had been extracted has also been published several times the HFU rector said. "As a precautionary measure, we therefore recommend that all employees and students who have worked with official or private, devices in HFU systems change all passwords, including those for privately used accounts." Students and employees alike are advised by HFU to keep an especially close eye on personal accounts in the coming period.
"Anyone who notices a data misuse should definitely report it to the police immediately," says Schofer.
Due to the extensive rebuilding, it will probably take weeks at Furtwangen University until all systems are working as usual again. However, the start of the winter semester lecture period is not in jeopardy. "Of course, some adjustments in teaching will also be necessary," says Schofer, "for example, we will hold more face-to-face courses than in previous semesters."
Winter Semester will start as planned
The cyberattack will not prevent us from starting normal teaching as planned. Lectures will begin on Wednesday, 4 October.
Special introductory events will be held for first-year students on that day.
We will inform you on this page promptly about the exact programme and about your class schedules.
Press release: Semester starts as planned
The start of the winter semester at Furtwangen University (HFU) will take place as planned at the beginning of October. Due to a cyber attack on Monday, 18 September, HFU had taken all systems offline for security reasons. "The disruption does not prevent us from resuming teaching as normal," says HFU Rector Professor Dr. Rolf Schofer. "In some degree programmes, such as midwifery, lectures have already begun. In all other study subjects, our students will also start the semester as usual. For new students, special introductory events will take place as planned."
Due to the cyber attack, website accessibility as well as email communication at HFU was disrupted for several days. In the meantime, Furtwangen University has set up a new website at www.hs-furtwangen.de, where current information will be published. A continually updated FAQ section has also been added. "As of Monday, all of our employees will also be reachable again via email at new addresses," announced Rector Schofer. The FELIX learning platform will also be available at the start of lectures, he added.
HFU is working flat out to rebuild its IT structures. It is not yet clear how the cyberattack on Furtwangen University could have been perpetrated. "As a university of computer science, our security systems were naturally up to date. We maintain our systems very carefully and are constantly scanning for potential threats. In the IT industry, people are aware of the danger that cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new methods for cyberattacks," says Professor Dr. Christoph Reich, Information Security Officer at HFU.
"We are not the first and, unfortunately, will not the last university to be a target of cybercrime," Professor Reich said. "Not only can others who have been affected benefit from our findings, we will also incorporate the experience into our teaching in a very concrete way during follow-up. At Furtwangen University, we always base our course content on the latest real-world examples anyway," says Reich, who teaches in the Faculty of Computer Science. "Now, in the field of IT, we have the opportunity to demonstrate this ever-growing problem using the example of a highly complex system and to prepare our students particularly well for such scenarios."
Warning about fake websites
According to our information, in connection with cyber attacks, fake websites may be put online in the aftermath with the aim of obtaining data from affected persons.
Please note: This is the only and official page of Furtwangen University!
Ticket system for enquiries available
We have set up a new support system to answer enquiries as quickly as possible. Simply send an email to ticket(at)hfu.eu - we will forward your request to the right contact person to solve your issue as quickly as possible.
FAQ page online
Frequently asked questions are answered on our Internal link opens in the same window:FAQ page.
Contact for press inquiries
For all press inquiries, please contact our Press Officer Anja Bieber by phone at: 07723 920 2736 and currently at anja.bieber(at)hfu.eu
Reachable by telephone
The HFU landlines are not affected by the cyberattack. It is possible to redirect your phone, for example to your home office, as normal. Our conference tool, alfaview, is also fully functional. Rooms are currently being set up and will be available shortly.
Press release: Cyber attack at Furtwangen University
On Monday night, Furtwangen University (HFU) became the target of a cyber attack.
For security reasons, HFU immediately shut down all systems and called in the State Office of Criminal Investigation and the Baden-Württemberg Cyber Security Agency. As a result, HFU cannot currently be reached by mail or via its website, and all systems and central services, as well as the libraries, are out of operation. In order to provide students, applicants, employees and cooperation partners with information and answers as quickly as possible, Furtwangen University is setting up a new website today, which can be reached via the address www.hs-furtwangen.de.
At the moment, it is not yet possible to predict the extent of the damage caused. "The technical analyses are ongoing. Unfortunately, it is still unclear when we will be able to return to normal operations," says Head of Administration Andrea Linke. "We are working intensively and with combined forces to rebuild our infrastructure."