A ransomware attack impacts the U of U payroll software

Dec 15, 2021, 12:34 PM
FILE: This is the latest and greatest University of Utah Logo.  It was sent to us on April 21, 2009...
FILE: This is the latest and greatest University of Utah Logo. It was sent to us on April 21, 2009. Provided by the University of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — A ransomware attack impacted several platforms used by the University of Utah. A company called UKG is working with cybersecurity experts to uncover what happened during the attack. 

Kronos notified clients across the world of the attack late Sunday night. University officials made it clear, the school itself was not hit by the attack. 

U of U impacted

The University of Utah and the University of Utah Health use UKG platforms to manage payroll, scheduling, and more. UKG (formerly Kronos) is one of the biggest HR tracking software companies in the U.S.

Monday morning after the attack, the university created a task force to understand the impact on university employees and institutional operations, said the U of U.

They did this in order to “establish the best strategy for ensuring business continuity” and to mitigate any potential harm to university employees. 

The hack could have potentially impacted overtime pay, hourly employees,  family and medical leave and more, according to the U of U. 

Despite the attack rendering the software program inoperable for the U of U, employees on the main campus and hospital campus need not worry about their paychecks. 

“We’ve got systems in place with some redundancies to make sure people get paid on time and the paychecks are accurate,” explained Chris Nelson, a spokesperson for the university. 

The university reported the personal data accessible by Kronos during the attack. Those behind the ransomware attack could access name, date of birth, and home address. Kronos emphasized that sensitive personal data like social security numbers were not accessible by Kronos, and therefore not accessible to the attackers. 

Next steps

Moving forward after the attack, the U of U reported they are working with cybersecurity experts to understand what was impacted. The U said its biggest priority will be to communicate transparently with employees and to protect their interests. 

Nelson said the biggest headaches will be for the various HR departments which will need to track and submit everything by hand. Hourly employees will also be required to do things the old-fashioned way. 

“The biggest impact is just asking employees to do this a little bit more manually than they have had to in the past,” he said. 

The university advises employees to watch for specific instructions from their payroll advisers. The U also emphasized that they’re carefully watching updates from the company and that paychecks will still be distributed on schedule. 

“Hopefully, in the next few weeks it gets resolved and we’ll be back to normal operations on that side of the house,” Nelson said. 

Kronos reported it might take up to several weeks for the problem to be fixed and to get services up and running again. 

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A ransomware attack impacts the U of U payroll software