• The San Juan Daily Star

UPR targeted in cyberattacks; response minimizes impact

The University of Puerto Rico’s interim president said there was no loss of data, identity theft or damage to the servers or to the university network infrastructure as a result of the cyberattacks.

By The Star Staff

The University of Puerto Rico (UPR) was the target of a series of cyberattacks in recent days aimed at limiting the availability of services, the institution announced Wednesday amid a spate of cyberattacks against public facilities on the island.

However, the situation was addressed and had no consequences that could adversely affect system users, UPR interim president Mayra Olavarría Cruz said.

“The UPR, like any other type of government or private organization, is continually exposed to these cyber attacks,” she said. “The important thing is that we have the necessary security tools to identify and [resolve] them quickly and effectively.”

Olavarría Cruz gave assurances that there was no loss of data, identity theft or damage to the servers or to the infrastructure of the UPR network.

“The personnel of the Information Systems Office, experts in security, are working in collaboration with security agencies to which they provide information to find the origin of the attacks,” she said.

The island’s electronic toll collection system was the target of a cyberattack over the weekend. The system, known as AutoExpreso, is run by a private operator called Professional Account Management.

The incident reported Saturday came three months after an attack crippled the internet provider, phone system and official online page of Puerto Rico’s Senate. In 2021, a cyberattack hit the website of a private company that had taken over management of the island’s electricity transmission and distribution system.

From 2016 to 2020, Puerto Rico government agencies were the victims of cyberattacks that cost millions of dollars in public funds.

One involved a $1.5 million transaction by the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. lost $2.61 million in a transaction that was made after receiving an email from an alleged hacker, and the Puerto Rico Government Employees Retirement System denounced another fraudulent transaction involving hackers that compromised $63,000 in public funds.

In August 2018, then-General Services Administration chief Ottmar Chávez Piñero reported that the agency’s Single Registry of Bidders online platform had suffered a cyberattack. In March 2018, the government admitted to being the victim of two cyberattacks in less than 24 hours that blocked public officials’ access to the information systems of both the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Environmental Quality Board.

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